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UVU student arrested in connection with BB gun shooting at BYU

James Dunning (Utah County Sheriff)

PROVO, Utah — The BYU Police Department has made an arrest after three students say they were shot with a BB gun.  Investigators say their suspect is a well-known soccer player for Utah Valley University.

BYU Police dives into BB gun case

According to Lieutenant Rich Christianson, the suspect, James Dunning, a first-year UVU soccer player, fired multiple shots at a group of mostly freshmen outside a building at Helaman Halls on BYU Campus around 10 P.M. Sunday.


Cops say two students were struck, but uninjured, largely thanks to the clothing they were wearing.

A third student was taken to an Instacare location in order to remove a BB pellet that was lodged in their head, about three inches above their ear. The BB penetrated his skin and required medical treatment to remove. 

Christianson tells KSL, “That is completely reckless to fire a BB gun under CO2 pressure into a crowd.  You don’t know if you’ve hit somebody in the eye, or who knows what.”

He also says modern BB guns have a lot more power than many people realize.

“Some of the BB guns and pellet guns will [shoot something] 1,200 feet a second, or faster,” Christianson says.  “Your high-end air guns are under pressure with pressurized tubes that really can project a pellet, just like a centerfire rifle, almost.”

Investigation leads to an arrest

An investigation revealed there was four other individuals inside a Nissan Rogue with Dunning at the time of the shooting. Each of the participants told investigators the BB gun is owned by Dunning and that he fired the gun at victims through a car window.  The driver reportedly yelled at Dunning to stop.

One added that Dunning used the same BB gun earlier in the day and caused injuries to his legs multiple times, “breaking the skin and causing the wound to bleed.”

According to the PC statement, “After the shooting at Helaman Halls the driver was concerned that Dunning may have hit someone when he shot the BB Gun and turned around to drive past the area to check. They returned to the building where the shooting had taken place and noticed a group had gathered in the area. Someone from the group approached the car and reported that someone had just been shot and injured by a BB Gun. The driver was concerned but Dunning did not want to report the incident and they left the area.”

Christianson says they received a tip about Dunning, reached out to him and Dunning agreed to meet with investigators.  That’s where he reportedly admitted to firing the gun.  Dunning was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of three counts of aggravated assault.

BYU plans to continue in-person learning for winter semester