Subscribe for 17¢ / day

A janitor at the University of Montana School of Law who allegedly was  keeping a knife and two pistols in a janitorial closet there accidentally shot himself in the foot Wednesday night while handling one of the guns.

Law school associate dean Greg Munro notified students of the incident in an email sent Thursday morning and obtained by the Missoulian.

In the email, Munro said campus police officers responded to the incident and, after learning the facts, determined the incident posed no further risk "that would make warnings to others necessary and that such warnings would create unnecessary fear."

The janitor, Josiah Pratt, was handling one of the pistols when he shot himself in the foot, Munro’s email said.

“He is being charged,” the email said.

In a phone interview Thursday afternoon, Munro said the school is working with UM Office of Public Safety officials to get more details about the incident.

Students often are in the building at night studying, especially near the end of the semester, but no one witnessed the incident, he said.

The building is secure at night and students must enter with swipe cards, he said.

One student inquired Thursday about why an alert wasn’t sent out about the incident, Munro said.

“One (student) was concerned, but the police followed exact protocol,” and they had Pratt detained quickly, Munro said.

UM Public Safety officials will handle the charges, Munro said.

Munro's email told students that Pratt had a semi-automatic .45 caliber pistol, a .357 pistol and a knife in one of the janitors' closets.

Peggy Kuhr, vice president of integrated communications, confirmed that Public Safety officers responded to an accident involving a custodial worker. Kuhr said initial reports suggested that a weapon was involved, but information was limited and the incident remained under investigation.

Office of Public Safety Chief Gary Taylor has not returned a call for comment.

Missoula Police Detective Sgt. Travis Welsh said the Missoula police had been asked to assist in the case by taking a statement from the janitor, but had not been asked to take over the investigation.