By Amy L. Ashbridge
A student at the State University College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill said he will meet with college officials today to discuss his fate after posting a picture on Facebook of himself with a shotgun.
Tharindu Meepegama said he didn’t have a good answer as to what he was thinking when he posted the picture last week on his Facebook profile on the Internet. That, and a sentence involving an expletive about the school, landed the student from Sri Lanka at A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital’s psychiatric unit.
"I can’t give you (a good answer)," Meepegama said after being discharged Wednesday. "I was not thinking about V. Tech at all when I posted the picture."
Meepegama said he hadn’t been aware of the specifics of the Virginia Tech shooting when he posted the picture and quote separately. The quote said Meepegama was "tired of people talking (expletive) about my school." Meepegama said the quote refers to a discussion he had been having online with people about housing problems on campus.
"I wanted to change the picture," Meepegama said. "It had been up there for a while."
Meepegama said administrators told him he would have a five-day suspension pending a psychological evaluation. That evaluation was to be done at the Schoharie County Mental Health Clinic.
"They needed to make sure I’m not a threat to myself or anyone else," Meepegama said.
He said the Schoharie County counselor there told him the clinic didn’t have the people to make a "complete" evaluation. Thursday, he said, the Schoharie County sheriff’s office transported him to Fox in Oneonta. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Meepegama was told he’d be there on a 72-hold. As of Monday, he said, they had changed his status to being there voluntarily. Meepegama said he was told he could ask to be discharged, but that would take up to 72 hours to process.
He was discharged Wednesday after meeting with a psychiatrist.
Meepegama does not live on campus. He lives in an off-campus apartment and said he was keeping the gun for his best friend, Ryan Fluty. The gun has since been turned over to college police. Fluty lives on campus; guns are not allowed on campus.
Holly Cargill-Cramer, spokeswoman for Cobleskill Tech, said federal and state privacy regulations prevented her from sharing information about individual disciplinary actions at the college.
"It’s an isolated incident," Cargill-Cramer said Wednesday.
Regardless of recent events at Virginia Tech, she said, the college was doing what was necessary for the "safety and security" of the campus.
Meepegama said the picture and the quote have been removed from his Facebook. He said he removed the picture when he talked to administrators on campus last week.
"I do understand why the college did what they did," Meepegama said.
Amy L. Ashbridge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 432-1000, ext. 213 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 213.