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Man is arrested after bringing gun to NDSU downtown campus

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Man is arrested after bringing gun to NDSU downtown campus
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should leave before the situation escalated. Evensen said he was not threatened in any way.

"I was scared and he was probably startled," he said.


Evensen, a former Merchant Marine who weighs 215 pounds with tattoos around his throat and arms, said he likely appeared intimidating to the man.

Degidio then left the building through the south entrance and Evensen followed until he crossed the railroad tracks. Degidio stood at the corner of Eighth Street and Main Avenue while Evensen called 911, as if trying to decide which way to go, Evensen said.

For nearly an hour, almost a dozen officers searched for Degidio, scouring several downtown buildings. Most officers had given up, but one officer spotted Degidio in the drive-up window at Bank of The West, a few blocks away from the campus, Fargo police Sgt. Jeff Skuza said.

The bank lobby wasn't open yet, and Degidio had just completed a legitimate transaction when he was arrested without incident, Skuza said, adding Degidio did not threaten anyone with the gun.

The pellet gun looks very similar to a semiautomatic handgun, Skuza said.

It is unknown why Degidio was in the NDSU building at 650 NP Ave., which houses art and architecture students and serves about 500 students, faculty and staff in a typical day.

Just out of prison

Degidio was released from prison six weeks ago after serving nearly nine years for convictions of aggravated robbery and burglary.

He moved to Moorhead last month to live with his sister.

Bloomington, Minn., authorities had dealt with Degidio in the past and were following him on Jan. 14, 1999, when they watched him dart into McGlynn's Bakery and come running out a short time later.

"He got about as far as the end of the parking lot" before he was arrested, Bloomington Detective Steve Anda said.

Degidio, then 19, used a knife, which Anda described as a dagger, to threaten the clerk and was apprehended with the money from the robbery in his pocket, Anda said.

Degidio's troubles continued in prison. He had more than 90 disciplinary incidents while incarcerated, including abuse, making threats and disorderly conduct, said Shari Burt, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

The incidents led to several periods of time when Degidio was segregated from the rest of the general population. He was eventually required to serve out his entire sentence, Burt said.

Under Minnesota law, Degidio could have been released after serving only six years in prison, with the requirement that he be on supervised release for his remaining roughly three years, Burt said.

But because of Degidio's extensive disciplinary history in prison, he was kept for his entire sentence "for public safety purposes," Burt said.

"He served every possible day that we had authority to hold him," she said, adding officials had no choice but to release him.

He was released Jan. 13 from the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights, a maximum-level security prison, according to FARGO -- The man arrested early Tuesday after he brought a pellet gun to the North Dakota State University downtown campus raised custodians' suspicions in recent weeks.

Dean Evensen, the custodian who called police at 7:43 a.m. Tuesday to report a man with a gun, said staff talked earlier that morning about what to do if the man returned.

"The guy seemed suspicious," Evensen said. "He didn't look like he really kind of fit in."

The man, later identified by police as 28-year-old Vincent Degidio Jr., entered the former Northern School Supply Building through the south entrance and went into a first floor bathroom, Evensen said.

Evensen followed him into the bathroom while another custodian waited around the corner.

The man was standing near the sink using a rag to wipe what Evensen thought was a real gun.

Evensen said he kept calm and asked the man what he had.

"It's a heater," Evensen said the man replied.

Evensen then told the man he prison officials and Anda.

He was trying to find a job and had recently applied to be a press operator at The Forum.

On his application, Degidio said he studied architecture for two years in high school and listed his last job as being at KFC from 1998 to 1999. The end date for the job corresponds with Degidio's arrest for aggravated robbery.

Charges were not filed against Degidio as of late Tuesday.

He did not return a message left for him at the Cass County Jail, where he is being held on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon.

Attempts to contact his sister were also unsuccessful.

(Forum reporter Dave Olson contributed to this report.)

The Forum and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.