Teenager jailed after shooting fake gun at Crawley College students and trying to stab teachers

A teenager who walked into his college and opened fire at his fellow students using a fake gun has been jailed for five and a half years.

Sandijs Dreimanis, 18, sparked panic and forced Crawley College into lockdown when he entered the building on 26 April 2021.

The teenager, who had been excluded from the college the year before, tried to stab two teachers who tackled him to the ground, Lewes Crown Court heard.

Dozens of armed officers were called to the college after reports of shots being fired, with some students taking cover under their desks before being moved to safety.

Dreimanis said he wanted to make himself a target for armed police after rampaging through his college.

He told police he felt he had been bullied and discriminated against at college, and wanted the people who made him feel bad to be scared.

Sandijs Dreimanis with a prison officer

Dreimanis, who was born in Latvia and came to the UK aged ten, tried to deny he had the blank firing gun to cause fear of violence.

He changed his plea in January following psychiatric tests.

His mother watched in court as Dreimanis, wearing a grey prison tracksuit, spoke only to confirm his name. The court heard he had been excluded from college the previous December for fighting with another student and was only allowed on campus for one class.

He bought the gun days before for £130 and hid it with the knife on the pathway to the college.

Her Honour Judge Laing QC told him, “You have a poor ability to regulate your own emotions and your mental state can change rapidly and you contemplate suicide, but you had planned it.

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“You bought the gun days before and had hidden it with the knife on the pathway to college.

“You told police someone said something bad to you and got stressed. You were trying to be happy but realised no one really cared about you and snapped and wanted to get shot by police.”

The judge said it was not hard to imagine the terror he would have caused.

“I have no doubt at all you knew perfectly well the fear it would engender in all those students.

"I am prepared to accept your ultimate aim was to get yourself shot by police but there is no doubt you got satisfaction from causing that amount of fear."

Armed police at Crawley College in April 2021

Workshop technician Simon Wilson and college lecturer Peter Davidson rushed towards Dreimanis as students scattered, even as he raised his pistol again and fired directly at them.Judge Laing QC told Dreimanis, “They both ran after you and you fired directly at them. They carried on running at you with no hesitation at all. It is quite remarkable. They tackled you to the ground and got the gun out of your hand.

"You got the knife and attempted to stab Mr Wilson with it. Mr Davidson also sustained cuts to his hands.“

Maryam Syed for the prosecution told Lewes Crown Court the gunman had spoken to members of staff before going on his violent rampage. She said he told staff: “The people who will judge me are God and the people I care about.“

Within minutes, he had been pinned to the ground by Mr Wilson and Mr Davidson.

Crawley College was placed into lockdown

Richard Furlong for the defence described Dreimanis as a young man at the end of his tether.

“This is an unfortunate and sad young man who made a serious attempt to end his own life in the most grotesque and public way possible,” he said.

Dreimanis was described as having an emotionally unstable personality disorder. He admitted possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear, two counts of ABH and possession of a knife on school premises.

Dreimanis, was charged with four offences: possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence; possession of a knife on a school premises; and two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He pleaded guilty to all four offences, before being sentenced to five years and six months’ imprisonment, which includes time already spent in custody.