UC Davis student Nicholas Benson – arrested for possession of an assault weapon, making terrorist threats and resisting arrest – is out on bail.
The 25-year-old senior communication major was released on Feb. 6 from the Yolo County Jail, on the condition that he stays away from the campus.
Campus Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said that if people suspect Benson is on campus, they should notify the police.
However, Benson is not necessarily considered a threat, Spicuzza said.
“We are just following the conditions of his release,” Spicuzza said. “As far as I know, that order still stands.”
Benson was taken into custody on Jan. 21 by the Davis Police Department after a family member reported that he was distraught and suicidal.
They found Benson with his truck on Fourth and A Street, where he was subdued with a Taser after resisting arrest, according to the Davis PD press release. Inside the vehicle, officers found a loaded rifle with a telescopic sight, a loaded shotgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
During Benson’s bail hearing on Feb. 4, Judge Timothy L. Fall reduced his bail from $1 million to $100,000, so that he could afford to post bail and receive mental health support pending his trial.
“This was a case where he was more of a danger to himself than to others,” said Steven Sabbadini, Benon’s attorney, after the arraignment. Benson is expected back in court for a preliminary hearing on March 3. Although he could not specifically comment on the case, psychologist Roy Grabow from Counseling and Psychological Services said that suicidal behaviors are a sign of clinical depression.
“When people are depressed, they can feel desperate,” Grabow said. “Those who are suicidal typically have a sort of tunnel vision and cannot see any other way to solve or escape from their problems.”
Suicidal behavior is much more common than homicidal behavior among those suffering from depression, Grabow said.
Sabbadini has no further comment on the case or on Benson’s mental health status at this time. Family members also refused an interview with the Aggie.
Hope Bovenzi, junior electrical and computer engineering major, said that she was surprised about the incident and Benson’s alleged mental disorder. She lives in an A street housing complex with Benson.
“I would see him almost everyday in front of the house going to and from class,” Bovenzi said. “To me, he was little bit strange but he was always super nice.”
Bovenzi said Benson never alluded to threats to himself or others previous to his arrest.
“[I heard] from different interviews from friends on the news. They said that he was a ‘gun guy.’ That’s just not how I knew him,” Bovenzi said. “I knew him as a friendly neighbor, a little bit strange but nothing really disconcerting.”
Signs of depression are vast, ranging from tearfulness and withdrawal to substance abuse. However, these obvious signs may not always be seen in those with this mental disorder.
“It is fairly common that people are depressed and people around them aren’t aware of it,” Grabow said.
Students suffering from suicidal or violent thoughts are urged to seek help at CAPS. There is a 24-hour crisis line available through CAPS for mental health emergencies.
“Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among college students,” Grabow said. “We’re here to talk to students and to help with depression and other emotional problems.
SARAHNI PECSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.