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UVA-Wise student facing federal charge

A UVA-Wise student who allegedly hoaxed a report of a gunman on the campus last week now faces a federal charge.

According to Brian McGinn, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Bryant Alexander Hairston, 20, of Martinsville, was charged Monday in a criminal complaint alleging he knowingly made a “false, fictitious and fraudulent” statement or misrepresentation to law enforcement.

The charge is in addition to a similar charge filed by the state in Wise County last week. McGinn said the state charge might be dismissed later with the option to refile (nolle prosequi).

A press release issued by McGinn Monday says the criminal complaint indicates Hairston called 911 Jan. 23 to report seeing a man on campus with a gun and wearing a face mask. Hairston allegedly described the outfit the man was wearing, his location on the campus and that he was holding a pistol.

As a result of Hairston’s call, multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the campus and started searching buildings for the suspect. Hairston later admitted during questioning by Virginia State Police that he made up the story, authorities say.