Teenage gunman went on terrifying college rampage in suicide bid after being expelled



A teenager armed with a handgun went into a college and began firing at students and staff causing them to flee in terror.

Sandijs Dreimanis, 18, went on the rampage at Crawley College in east Sussex shooting indiscriminately at students and staff causing “unimaginable fear.”

The teenager, who had been expelled from the college months earlier, wandered round waving the imitation Glock pistol and shouting: “Run, run for your lives!” as he shot blanks at them.

Dreimanis fired 16 blanks during his rampage around the college in a bid to be shot dead by armed police.

Fearing a terrorist attack, armed police from across the south east were scrambled to the college at around 3.12pm last April 26 after receiving reports of a masked man brandishing a gun in the college.







Sandijs Dreimanis appeared in court
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However before they arrived, two members of staff from the welding department, spotted Dreimanis shooting the handgun at students and, without giving a thought for their own safety, they charged towards the gunman.

As they charged towards him, Dreimanis leveled the gun at the staff members and fired three times as they rushed towards him.

Simon Wilson, a college technician, rugby tackled Dreimanis to the ground and alongside Peter Davidson they wrestled with him to try and disarm him.







Armed police at Crawley College, Crawley, West Sussex,
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However Dreimanis pulled out a knife from a sheath and stabbed Mr Wilson in the forearm. He also struck out at Mr Davidson injuring his hands before they were eventually able to restrain and disarm him.

Dozens of police snipers, including counterterrorism officers from nearby Gatwick Airport, rushed to the campus and searched classrooms, while a helicopter flew overhead.

They called in support from police in Surrey, Kent and the Metropolitan Police force who attended, alongside dog units.







Police flocked to the college after reports of gunshots
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Dreimanis, who is originally from Latvia, was arrested and told police: “It’s a blank. I just wanted people to get scared.

“A knife was only used because they did not run away.

“I am not a terrorist I do not like ISIS or the Taliban. I just wanted to care for people who made me feel bad.”

He later pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear.







Armed police at Crawley College, Crawley
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He also admitted two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one count of possession of a bladed article on school premises.

Dreimanis, now 19, was sentenced to five years and six months in young offenders institution at Lewes Crown Court

The court heard he had been studying English at Crawley College but had been expelled at Christmas for fighting with another student.

Resentful of his treatment at the college, he went to a local shop on April 22 and bought an imitation blank firing gun for £130 and hid it along with a knife in a bush near the college.







Police in riot gear attended the scene
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He returned to the college on April 26 and bumped into a staff member who told him he shouldn’t be on campus as he had been expelled.

Dreimanis became agitated and told her: “The people who will judge me are God and the people I care about.”

Wearing a black mask and hoodie he later returned with the gun and knife and began opening fire.

He leveled the gun at fellow students and began firing, causing terrified teenagers to run for their lives.

“He was telling people: ‘Run, run.”, said fellow student Elise Stellebotte, 17, “It all was pretty terrifying.”
Elise, who is studying for a motor mechanics diploma, said she and fellow students left their classrooms after hearing shots being fired.







The shooting incident shocked onlookers
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She said: “I herd several shots being fired really quickly and everyone dived out of the classroom.

“I saw the gunman. He was wearing a black puma hoodie and a mask. I was only a few yards away and I could see he had this pistol in his hand and was waving it around.

“He was shouting telling people to ‘Run, run’. He was trying to scare people, deliberately.

“Everyone was pretty petrified. We had no idea what was happening and it’s worrying with all the terror attacks you hear about.







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“One of my classmates was almost having a panic attack and people were very scared.

“Then police arrived and there were armed snipers everywhere and the helicopter in the air.”

Another student, Eddie, 18, said: “It was absolutely terrifying. I heard shots ringing out and they were unmistakably gunshots. I saw the guy.

“He was wearing a black hoodie and a jumper and he had a mask on.

“He was screaming at people telling them: ‘Run for your lives, run, run!’ and jumping around all over the place then he fired some shots.







Sandijs Dreimanis is led into court
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“No-one knew they weren’t live bullets. Thanks God they turned out to be blanks.

“It was the scariest thing ever. Everyone thought it was a terrorist attack and we all went back into the building for safety.”

Maryam Syed, prosecuting, told Lewes Crown Court: “Mr Wilson tackled the defendant to the floor and had his legs wrapped around him.

He was joined by Mr Davidson who saw him pull a knife.







The teenager appeared at Lewes Crown Court
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“He shouted: ‘Knife! Knife!’ repeatedly and helped pin the defendant to the ground.

However Mr Wilson was stabbed in the forearm and Mr Davidson suffered injuries to his hands.

“The defendant was struggling violently and it took the strength of a number of people to restrain him.”

Police snipers and armed response units treated the incident as a terrorist attack and the college was put into lockdown.







Dreimanis was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court
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Armed officers patrolled the grounds and carried out room to room searches of the premises before they were able to establish Dreimanis was not a terrorist and he had acted on his own.

Later the two lecturers who had tackled Dreimanis were praised for their bravery by Sussex Police.

Sentencing him Judge Christine Laing QC said the incident may have been a genuine attempt to be shot dead by armed police but said it may have been “a cry for help.”

The court heard Dreimanis had suffered a disrupted childhood in Latvia and had been brought up by an alcoholic father before fleeing to the UK to live with his mother.

Judge Lang praised both staff members for tackling and disarming Dreimanis and recommended them for a High Sheriff’s Award.

She said: “Their bravery was utterly extraordinary and their instinctive desire to run straight at danger to protect students and staff at the college is one of the most remarkable things I have seen in 40 years. “

Judge Laing said their action undoubtedly saved the life of Dreimanis but spared students the trauma of seeing him shot dead in front of their eyes.

It also spared his family from the devastation that would have caused.

Dreimanis was sentenced three years and nine months for possession of the imitation firearm with intent to cause fear and 21 months for the two assault and possession of the knife, to be served consecutively to the first sentence.




www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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