After serving roughly six months of his one-year sentence, David Light, the would-be Yale senior from Woodland Park, Colo., has been released on parole.
Light, who last spring pleaded no contest to two counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon — a class D felony — and one count of reckless endangerment in the first degree — a misdemeanor — was released Sept. 24, according to a spokeswoman from the state Department of Corrections. The spokeswoman said Light is now under the supervision of a parole officer in New Haven. Light was seen on Friday Sept. 26 at the off-campus Chabad at Yale, the Jewish student organization of which he was president before his arrest.
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University spokesman Tom Conroy said Light is still suspended from Yale, pending a hearing by the Executive Committee, the University’s highest disciplinary body. When asked if Light could be present on campus, Conroy declined to comment on the terms of Light’s suspension vis-à-vis disclosure protocol mandated by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Attorney William F. Dow III ’63 represented Light on his weapons charge. Because Dow has not been further contracted by Light, Dow said he could not speak to the conditions of Light’s parole.
He said simply, “I have received no official information about his status.”
On July 16, 2007, Light arrived at his room in the former Beta Theta Pi fraternity house to find police, who had a warrant for his arrest, searching his bedroom. Police said they found an AK-47, an AR-15 assault rifle, a .50-caliber sniper rifle, a Russian M-91 infantry rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, several pistols and 4,000 to 5,000 rounds of mixed ammunition.
The warrant was issued after Light allegedly shot blanks from a handgun into the ceiling of the common room at the Beta house and threatened a visitor to the fraternity who was concerned about Light’s behavior.
Just one month later, Light was taken into custody on bomb-making charges. During a search of Light’s room, police and specialists from the Department of Environmental Protection uncovered assorted bomb-making supplies, including flash powder, a 16 oz. jar of mercury, cylindrical cardboard tubes, endcaps and fuses. Light had covered the smoke alarm in his room with plastic.
Light was arraigned on several charges, including two counts of illegal possession of assault rifles, 23 counts of possession of armor-piercing ammunition, 13 counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree and one count of criminal attempt to commit the manufacture of bombs.
All but three of those charges were dropped during closed-door negotiations between lawyers from both sides.
Prosecutors originally tried to push for a three-year sentence, but given Light’s history and potential to act in the future, the judge decided to give him the mandatory minimum sentence of one year.
Light’s sentencing last spring came during a particularly sensitive time, when campus shootings at Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech revived the public’s fear of gun-toting students.
Dow told the News last March that Light’s lapse in judgment, though major, was exaggerated by onlookers.
“There’s no question that David’s actions were immature and careless, which is consistent with students his age,” he said. “Unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of being immature and careless on college campuses when firearms are involved. He didn’t know that then; he knows it now. I’m confident he will grow and mature significantly from this experience.”
According to the Yale Undergraduate Regulations for 2007-’08, a student under administrative suspension cannot re-enroll at Yale College until ExComm hears the complaint brought up against the student and makes a decision. ExComm members have a year from the date of Light’s original suspension to decide whether to readmit him.
Because his criminal case has already been settled in court, Light will not be allowed to request an extension of his suspension to hold off a final decision.