DA: Merissa Hirneisen, CU Student, Used Stun Gun After Trying to Steal Textbooks

References to 24-year-old CU Boulder student Merissa Hirneisen on the university's website are impressive.

She's listed as an international affairs major, and she served as a student assistant for the 2013 Conference on World Affairs (her LinkedIn profile says she handled this task from 2009 to 2014) and an assistant editor for Occasions Online, subtitled "A Collection of Prize-Winning Works Produced by Students in the Program for Writing & Rhetoric" — Hirneisen's academic area of specialization.

In short, she seems to be an unlikely person to be charged with two counts of third-degree assault, as she was in recent days.

But at least the crime appears to have a scholastic connection. She reportedly used a stun gun on a security guard after being accused of trying to steal textbooks.

The incident took place at the CU Boulder Bookstore, in the University Memorial Center, or UMC, on campus.

On January 13, according to police reports accessed by the Boulder Daily Camera, two loss-prevention officers saw a woman, later identified as Hirneisen, trying to steal items at the store.

The items in question: textbooks.

At that point, the officers took her into a back room of the facility to question her.

The conversation doesn't appear to have gone especially well.

During the interrogation, Hirneisen got up to leave.

The officers tried to stop her from splitting — at which point she's accused of using a stun gun on one of the guards and physically attacking the other.

Neither of the officers was seriously hurt — and they were able to restrain Hirneisen until the cops arrived.

Now, Hirneisen is facing the assault beefs, with the Camera noting a reference in documents to "knowingly" using "a stun gun in the commission of a criminal offense, namely: theft."

A conviction could carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison, but Hirneisen is unlikely to receive such a sentence. We suspect this is merely a weird twist in a journey that's still full of promise — as well as an opportunity for her to put her rhetoric skills to the test.

Here's a look at her booking photo.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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