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Former football star arrested on gun charges on campus

“On Dec. 3 there was an illegal firearm in the hands of a criminal on this campus, what else needs to happen?”

With fliers like the one above posted on bulletin boards across campus, students have expressed outrage at a University of Massachusetts student carrying a gun on campus.

According to Deputy Chief Patrick Archbald of the UMass Police Department, Sean R. Smalls, 22, of Richmond, Va., a 2008 football captain and All-American defensive back, was arrested as the result of a traffic stop on Infirmary Way on Dec. 3.

A UMass police officer pulled Smalls over for crossing the marked yellow line between Sunset Ave. and Infirmary Way. After approaching the car, the officer reportedly smelled the strong odor of freshly burnt marijuana, which prompted the officer to call a K-9 unit.

Both the passenger in the car, Sam Migdol of Amherst, Mass., and Smalls admitted to having recently smoked marijuana. In the backseat, the officers found a backpack, which the canine unit soon targeted, where the officers discovered marijuana, Adderall and a digital scale. Migdol admitted the backpack was his and stated that the driver, Smalls, did not know what was inside the bag. Migdol is currently facing possession with intent to distribute a Class B drug, charges for the Adderall, for which he did not have a prescription and a citation for possession of the marijuana.

During the search of his car, according to UMPD, Smalls continually placed his hands underneath the driver’s seat. After noticing this multiple times, the arresting officer asked Smalls to step out of the car to see what was underneath the seat. Upon this search, the officer found a fully loaded .380 pistol. Smalls did not have a permit for the weapon, a Mass. firearms identification card or a permit for the ammunition. According to UMPD, it is currently unknown how Smalls came to own the weapon or purchase the bullets without a permit. Smalls was charged with carrying a firearm without a permit, carrying a firearm on school grounds, possession of a firearm without a FID card and given a citation for the marijuana.

Gun crime is not unheard of on the UMass campus. According to the UMass PD’s 2008 security report, there were 11 weapons law violations on campus in 2008. In 2007, there were four arrests and one referral for weapons, while in 2006 UMPD made one arrest and four referrals for weapons law violations.

Although Smalls was a UMass student at the time of his arrest, the office of UMass Dean of Students Jo-Anne T. Vanin could not be reached for comment on Smalls’ current academic status. He is also a resident of the state of Va., though it is unknown whether Smalls had a permit for the gun or a firearms license in his home state.

According to Massachusetts law, for non-residents to carry firearms in the state of Massachusetts, it must be for the purpose of a pistol or revolver competition, for an organized meeting for firearms collectors or for the purpose of hunting. The gun owner cannot be convicted of a prior felony, past unlawful gun usage or possession or sale of narcotic or harmful drugs.

Smalls’ criminal history in the states of Va. and Mass. is unknown. Smalls pleaded innocent at his arraignment Dec. 3. His next court date in Eastern Hampshire District Court is scheduled for Mar. 25.

The 6’-1”, 205 pound Smalls started 36 consecutive games at cornerback for the Minutemen before he went down with a cracked hip bone last October, effectively ending his college career. In 2007, Smalls recorded 49 tackles, a Colonial Athletic Association best 12 passes defended, two interceptions and 10 break-ups, earning him All-CAA honors. According to the blog NFL Draft Scout, Smalls was rated the number 62 cornerback out of 224 available in the 2009 draft.

Michelle Williams can be reached at mwillia@student.umass.edu.

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