City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
Coming to a Mall Near You - Development Project Seeks 400 Apartments at Wilton Mall
WILTON — A proposal that would see the development of nearly 400 apartments and townhouses alongside the Wilton Mall continues to move through the town’s approval process.
The project, proposed by the Macerich Corporation and Paramount Development, includes 382 new “luxury, market-rate rental residences,” including both apartments and townhomes, and will feature “premium resident amenities with a sophisticated design,” according to the companies.
In November, the town Planning Board entertained an application to establish a Planned Unit Development District (PUDD) for a development with mixed-use, consisting of 680,000 square feet of commercial use and 382 residential units – comprised of 296 apartments and 86 townhomes. The town board is reportedly charged with making the ultimate decision regarding the PUDD, and there has been some public opposition expressed regarding the project.
A phone message seeking comment left for Town Supervisor John Lant was not returned.
Mike Shaffer, Property Manager at Wilton Mall, said this week that a project update will be provided to the Wilton Town Board during its meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 5. The Saratoga County Planning Board is also anticipated to provide an advisory opinion to the Wilton Town Board next month.
Considering these forthcoming recommendations of the Wilton and Saratoga County Planning Boards - as well as the anticipated Negative Declaration on SEQRA – developers are currently anticipating a Feb. 2 Public Hearing with the Wilton Town Board – the municipal entity which will decide whether the Wilton Mall Mixed-Use PUDD is ultimately approved.
Paramount Development, based in Florida, has developed 200 rental apartment communities in dozens of states. Santa Monica, California-based company Macerich has owned and operated the mall land since 2004. They own about 95 acres in all; JC Penney – owns just over two acres, and LBW Saratoga – occupied by BJ’s, owns just under four acres.
“What we see in the Wilton Mall is something that’s got some momentum. We do really well around retail,” Tom Snell, a partner with Paramount Development, told Wilton town officials during a public meeting earlier this year, when Paramount announced its plans to purchase two lots totaling just over 13-1/2 acres on the northeasterly side of the mall for the $100 million-plus project.
The potential project, which would be developed in two phases, would occur on the northeast side of the mall past Dick’s Sporting Goods, and see the removal of the former BonTon location, which closed in 2018. That was followed by the closure of Sears two years later.
Remembering Paul Schrade - 50 Years Later: Local Man Shot with RFK Reflects
The front page of the past week’s edition of this newspaper told a multitude of stories. Multimillion-dollar municipal budgets were approved. A new, local hockey team emerged with a victory in their first-ever game. Legal maneuverings are in the process of being deployed to re-adjust the timing clock and rule when city bars must close their doors, maybe.
Inside of the newspaper meanwhile, on the left-most side of page 4, smiled back a headshot photograph and a handful of paragraphs that explained Paul Hermann Schrade had died. He was 97 years old. Paul Schrade grew up in Saratoga Springs in a different time. Nearly a century later, the region, the country and the greater world-at-large have gone through a myriad of changes. Schrade has been eyewitness to some of them. If you’re not familiar, perhaps this story may help fill in some of the details.
First published in Saratoga TODAY on the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s death, June 2018
Paul Schrade stood atop the platform in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel. A few feet away, Bobby Kennedy delivered his speech.
A few hours earlier, the polls closed on the California Democratic presidential primary and the feeling of victory hung in the air. As Kennedy made his way off the stage to meet with the press, the ballroom filled with the exuberant chanting of his joy-filled supporters: RFK. RFK. RFK.
“As he walked off into the pantry area, heading for a press conference, Bobby said: ‘I want you with me,’” Schrade recalls. Once inside the hotel kitchen pantry area, he watched Kennedy extend his hand to greet workers. “Then I got hit,” Schrade says. “I started shaking violently. I didn’t even know that I’d been shot.”
Schrade was shot in the head and taken to Los Angeles’ Kaiser Hospital. Just over 24 hours later, at 1:44 a.m. on June 6, 1968, Kennedy was pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital. After recovering from his injuries, Schrade moved out of Los Angeles and into the desert. He set aside the memories of that tragic night for a long time.
Paul Schrade grew up in Saratoga Springs where as a young man he worked nights and weekends at the family floral business, the descendant of which maintains the Schrade name and today stands on West Avenue as the Posie Peddler. “Slave labor,” he says with a laugh. He had a busy scholastic career that included writing for the school newspaper, Oratoga, and being involved in the speech club and photo club, among other organizations. He graduated from Saratoga Springs High School in 1942 and studied at Yale College, later becoming a union organizer and getting involved in the nation’s political scene.
During John F. Kennedy’s election campaign in 1960, Schrade struck up a friendship with J.F.K.’s younger brother, Bobby. “We had a lot of great experiences together,” he says.
The year 1968 was one of conflict in America. “Bob was facing a lot of crises,” explains Schrade. “The anti-war movement, rebellion on campuses, rebellion in the black community; Dr. King had been shot and killed. The country was in horrible shape at the point and Bob provided some hope during this terrible time.”
Vice President Hubert Humphrey would later emerge from a turbulent Democratic National Convention in Chicago to represent his party. Republican candidate Richard Nixon would win the presidency in the general election.
Asked whether he can imagine how the world might be different had Kennedy survived and been elected president, Schrade says, “well he was against the war in Vietnam. He would have ended the war.” One person’s life making such a big difference. “One small bullet made a difference,” he replied.
Sirhan Sirhan was convicted in 1969 of the assassination of Kennedy and sentenced to death in the gas chamber. The sentence was commuted three years later, when California abolished the death penalty. Sirhan became eligible for parole in 1986 but has been repeatedly rejected.
During the past several years, Schrade has re-focused his attentions on the assassination. Convinced there was a second gunman, he has been pushing for a thorough investigation. “There never was an investigation. They just grabbed Sirhan without evidence or witnesses and refused to go after the second gunman.
“I’m not going to get into conspiracy theories – whether he was programmed or not. Sirhan was there and fired (the first) two shots, missing Kennedy and shooting me. The gun was two to three feet in front of Robert Kennedy according to the prosecution’s own witnesses,” Schrade says. As he was being subdued, Sirhan wildly fired off a number of more shots. In all, six people were shot. The Los Angeles County coroner determined that three bullets struck Kennedy’s body and a fourth passed harmlessly through his clothing, CNN reported in a 2012 story sub-titled, “There Was A Second Shooter,” following a 2012 interview with Nina Rhodes-Hughes, a witness to the murder. Rhodes-Hughes said she heard two guns firing during the shooting and that authorities altered her account of the crime.
“It was an eight-shot revolver and Kennedy got shot four times in the back. Sirhan didn’t have the bullets,” Schrade says. ”He was captured out of position. The gun was two to three feet in front of Kennedy and Kennedy got hit at point-blank range in the back. It couldn’t be Sirhan. It had to be a second gunman.
“The prosecution knew this, knew there was a second gunman and didn’t do anything to investigate it. They just did a quickie on Sirhan and sent him to the gas chamber. They were going to murder this guy,” Schrade says. “It was a well-planned investigation in order to convict Sirhan. They falsified the evidence right from the beginning.”
Asked for his thoughts on motivations behind the assassination, Schrade says, “we can only guess at the motivations because we never investigated the second gunman. And I don’t guess at things anymore, only facts and truth. They decided to go after Sirhan. I don’t know why. It could have been for political reasons, but ‘why’ has not been answered.
“I’m 93. The only thing I can do at this point is make a public declaration and try to get the people that have some influence involved,” Schrade says. “Hopefully it will move these organizations to do the right thing, by Kennedy, and by Sirhan.”
City Votes Down 2 AM Bar Closing Time; Tables Salary Increase for Deputy Commissioners
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A Public Hearing on a proposed amendment that threatened to revoke the permits of bars and cabarets should their patrons become engaged in any criminal offense after 2 a.m. was staged immediately prior to the City Council’s Dec. 6 meeting. The Public Hearing, nearly one-hour long, contained many voices both in support of, and in opposition to the proposed amendment.
The council ultimately voted down the proposal 3-2 with Mayor Ron Kim and Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino in favor of the measure, and Commissioners Jason Golub, Dillon Moran, and Minita Sanghvi voting against it.
Council members agreed they will continue to seek methods to alter the city’s 4 a.m. bar closing time – the preferred time appears to be 2 a.m. - to address late night/early morning public safety concerns, particularly during weekends. City officials expressed the desire to approach the county Board of Supervisors with their earlier closing request, even as previous attempts by prior councils in this manner had proved unsuccessful. The county board holds its final meeting of the calendar year at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at the county complex in Ballston Spa.
Additionally, during its four-hour full meeting this week, the council agreed to table a vote that proposed salary increases for the city’s five deputy commissioners. It is anticipated that discussion will continue at the next council Tuesday night on Dec. 20 at Saratoga Springs City Hall.
The city also agreed to send up to two council members, supporting deputy commissioners, the city attorney, and police department leadership to meet with county District Attorney Karen Heggen regarding a Temporary Restraining Order requested by the district attorney, which effectively silenced councilmembers from publicly discussing matters related to the downtown shooting that occurred in Saratoga Springs on Nov. 20. The city’s allocation of less than 3 council members ensures a quorum will not be present, so the meeting between city personnel and the district attorney may be held privately, and not attended by the public.
Look to next week’s edition of Saratoga TODAY (Dec. 16-22 edition), for a more in-depth view of what to expect at the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and the City Council meetings that will be held at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, on Dec. 20.
Salvation Army: Not Just Red Kettles & Holiday Bells
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Most know them for their red kettles and presence during the holiday season - but the Salvation Army, which sites its county headquarters on Woodlawn Avenue in Saratoga Springs, supports local families with a variety of programs throughout the year.
On premises there is a food pantry, and a place where after-school youth programs offer kindergartners to high school seniors help in reading, social and life skills, and the playing of musical instruments. The organization also works with thrift stores in Clifton Park, Queensbury, and Glens Falls, as well as with local agencies such as Shelters of Saratoga, and RISE.
“A lot of the people are those who just walk through the door and say: I need help,” says Lt. Michael Dow, Lt., the Corps Officer at The Salvation Army in Saratoga Springs.
“That could be physical health, mental health, food insecurities. They could need help with heating their apartment or house, with gas in their car, or getting to medical appointments. Really, it encompasses a lot, and people can walk in the door or call,” said Dow, who along with wife and fellow Salvation Army Lt. Cassidy Dow have been involved through their families with the Salvation Army since their respective childhoods.
“It runs deep in our blood,” says Dow, whose office windows face the Woodlawn Avenue parking garage, where those who are homeless often congregate. Here too, assistance is offered.
“We see things and it just hurts our hearts, but we are able to provide a meal, to provide a shower, to offer a place to come in, to help them feel safe and comfortable before they go back out on the street,” he says.
Donations to The Salvation Army Red Kettles during the holidays, meanwhile, help support many of the organization’s missions.
“Eighty-five cents of every dollar that goes in to the kettle goes right back out to the community,” Dow says.
The origin of the red kettle traces back to a December day in 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee sought a way to collect funds to provide a free Christmas dinner to San Francisco’s poor. McFee’s idea took off. Within four years, the kettle was used in 30 Salvation Army locations across the west coast and continued to spread globally. Red Kettles can now be found across the U.S. and Europe, Korea, Japan, Chile, and Australia.
On Friday, Dec. 9, an anonymous donor has offered to match every kettle donation locally. The red kettles are stationed at Walmart stores in Wilton and Clifton Park, Price Chopper stores on Route 50 and in Clifton Park, and along Broadway in Saratoga Springs.
The red kettles will be out through Christmas Eve. People interested in volunteering for a few hours of ringing downtown, or businesses interested in allowing a kettle to be set up can call Dow to offer their help.
“Christmastime is a huge fundraiser for the Salvation Army and everything we are able to do day-to-day Is based upon how funds are raised during this season. We are fortunate to have a community that’s so giving - although just to be honest we are a little behind in our goal this Christmas season, so any and every dollar helps,” Dow said.
The fundraising goal is $134,000 and donations may be made in person at the red kettles (where a QR Code is also available) or online through the organization’s website.
On a grand scale, the Salvation Army supports recovery efforts in national and international disasters: helping families prepare for the bitter cold in Ukraine by providing basic hygiene, warm meals, and blankets; readying dozens of mobile feeding units to mobilize across Florida during recent Hurricane Ian relief efforts, and supporting families in the aftermath of devastating floods in Pakistan.
In its fight against hunger and food insecurity, more than 56 million meals are provided annually through food pantries, meal programs, and no-cost sustainable community gardens.
It engages in anti-human trafficking efforts by providing ongoing support and services to victimized survivors, and serves displaced men, women and children with local Salvation Army homeless shelters and both transitional and permanent supportive housing programs.
The tax-exempt organization operates more than 7,000 centers in communities across the U.S., and in 2021 served more than 25 million people.
Locally, emergency programs help families pay their rent and utility bills, and through its care management program provides frequent face-to-face time with adults and kids experiencing health conditions.
The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative provides enhanced services to families with children desiring to take action to break the cycle of crisis and intergenerational poverty. By 2030, through the Pathway of Hope, The Salvation Army says it will make a lasting difference in reducing intergenerational poverty by transforming the lives of 100,000 families in the United States.
“It’s a fantastic program,” Dow says.
=The Salvation Army of Saratoga Springs is located at 27 Woodlawn Ave., just east of Broadway and opposite the parking garage. Call 518-584-1640, or go to: https://easternusa.salvationarmy.org/empire/saratoga-springs/
Under Development: ZBA Meets Dec. 12
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold their next regularly scheduled meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12, at City Hall.
Among the continued business the board may address include the seeking of an area variance to permit the construction of 102 apartment units at 131 Excelsior Area, and an area variance to permit the subdivision of an existing lot to create three lots at 190-194 Grand Ave.
In new business before the board, the owners of a single-family residence at 74 Fifth Ave. are seeking an area variance for the purposes of demolishing the existing house and the construction of a new, single-family residence.
Last Call: City Sets Tuesday Public Hearing Re: Changes to Bar Closing Times
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council this week set a Public Hearing regarding efforts to change its bar and restaurant closing times from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. The 15-minute Public Hearing will take place in advance of the council’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
Through different administrations over the course of the past several years, the city has attempted to install earlier an earlier closing time for its downtown bars, but ultimately the county must agree for the city to be able to do so.
To the latter point, the council unanimously approved a formal letter be sent to the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors requesting prohibition of sales of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption after 2 a.m.
“I think this is a step that we need to make, but we need to be prepared to do more, because I don’t think it’s going to be recognized,” said city Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran. Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim agreed. “We need to leave no stone unturned in how we deal with the issues Caroline Street presents to us. Unfortunately, I don’t think the county will do this, but, yes, we need to send the letter,” said Mayor Kim.
The portion the city is requesting be changed refers to Section 17.11 of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Law, which states that any potential change made to restrict the hours of sale of alcoholic beverages by the state Liquor Authority must first come in the form a resolution adopted by the county board of supervisors.
$57 Million: 2023 Budget Adds 16 Firefighters
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council unanimously voted to approve the adoption of a $57 million budget for 2023, during a special meeting staged Nov. 28 at City Hall.
The 2023 budget is up approximately $2.8 million compared to the adopted budget in effect during the current year.
Specifics of the spending plan include $31.3 million for personnel, which incorporates the addition of several new position across departments, and the re-addition of 6 police officers into the Department of Public Safety budget. All police officer positions are fully funded, and there is a stipulation for the hiring of 16 new firefighters. An additional $15 million has been budgeted as benefits. These include just under $10 million for healthcare, and $4.8 million in the retirement system.
Overall, personnel and benefits account for more than 80% of the annual spending plan.
During the Public Hearing segment prior to the vote, two residents stepped forward to speak to the council.
Bill McTygue called the spending plan’s directive to add 16 new firefighters and EMS personnel as well as six police officers unprecedented when compared to previous annual city budgets. “My salute to all of you who worked together on this historic document,” McTygue said.
Gordon Boyd, the second speaker during the public hearing, echoed McTygue’s comments related to the budget, as well as complimenting council members on their transparency “in approaching justice issues,” as it related to the city’s prompt release of information and visual documents regarding a downtown shooting that occurred Nov. 20.
The early Sunday morning altercation turned into an exchange of gunfire that spilled onto Broadway and ultimately resulted in approximately 20 shots being fired. The 3 a.m. incident is believed to have begun as a verbal dispute at a bar on Caroline Street between an off-duty Sheriff’s Deputy from Vermont and a group of individuals from the Utica area, during which approximately eight shots were fired. City police officers responding to the incident fired approximately 11 shots after the off-duty deputy allegedly ignored calls to drop his weapon.
The incident marked the first discharge of a weapon in the line of duty by a Saratoga Springs officer in more than a quarter-century. City officials staged a press conference at City Hall less than 12 hours after the incident had occurred.
State Police apparently took over the investigation and a temporary restraining order was issued after Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen reportedly filed a request to silence the flow of information regarding the incident, effectively gagging city officials from discussing the events further.
Regarding property taxes, the tax levy increase is 2.9%. What this means: For a home assessed value at $200,000 inside the district, the increase is about $37 per year. For home assessed value at $300,000, the increase is just under $56 per year, and at $400,000 there will be an increase of about $74.50 annually, or $6.21 per month.
Saratoga Springs’ Community Outreach Court is the Only One of Its Kind in Upstate N.Y.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — In 2020, the city found itself faced with a problem.
An increasing pattern of people experiencing street-homelessness were frequently failing to appear in court, while others were re-offending shortly after being convicted. The result was a backlog of warrants and a significant amount of law enforcement time and resources spent policing individuals experiencing street-homelessness for minor, yet disruptive, offenses.
A collaborative effort between the Saratoga Springs Mayor’s Office, City Court Judge Francine Vero and RISE Housing and Support Services assisted in the design of a Community Outreach Court. Two years later, the program is showing signs of success.
“Before the court, people who were homeless and getting citations were just not showing up. The dockets were backlogged, and no one was getting the help they needed,” RISE Executive Director Sybil Newell explained last week, during the organization’s annual update to the City Council. “Since October 2020, the RISE Outreach Court Team has been present at every session, and 60 individuals have participated; 77% have appeared at all court dates versus 0% prior to this program being active.”
The post-discharge results point to 14 people who have graduated and remained arrest free for six months; 9 who ended up in jail and served their sentences; 6 hospitalized psychiatrically and 3 who entered into rehab programs, Newell said. “I consider the hospitalizations and entering into rehab programs to be successful, because that’s where they needed to be at that time.”
Additionally, 70% of the people involved in the program complied with all their court orders, and 78% have maintained contact with RISE Housing & Support Service. The housing agency sites its main offices on Union Avenue and is tasked with providing safe, healthy housing and support services to people with mental health concerns, substance use, and other life challenges.
The Community Outreach Court in Saratoga Springs, initiated in October 2020, stands as the only outreach court in upstate New York.
Francine Vero serves as judge for the Saratoga Springs City Court, as well as judge of the Outreach Court. Vero provided a statement to the city in conjunction with the annual report.
“When I took office, I was dismayed by the number of individuals suffering from homelessness charged with offenses who failed to appear in City Court when directed and re-offended shortly after being convicted. It was evident this ‘revolving door approach’ to court proceedings was ineffective,” Vero wrote.
With the formation of the Community Outreach Court in late 2020 anyone charged with a non-violent offense and lacking a stable residence was connected with a RISE coordinator after arraignment. That person was subsequently connected with social services they were in need of. Transportation was also provided to court appearances, treatment appointments and psychological evaluations.
“They work with individuals while they are incarcerated, setting them up for success with the treatment and housing plans for when they are released from jail,” the judge wrote. “The Community Outreach Court has proven to benefit the community and improve the lives of the participants.”
Officials call it a dignified and research-based approach to working with people experiencing homelessness, improving the quality of life within the community, as well as resulting in administrative cost benefits by decongesting court dockets and reducing the amount of time the police department spends responding to calls and arrests.
“As we all know, the Woodland parking garage is still quite a situation - but of the individuals going through the Community Outreach Court: it is effective, and they are staying away from that parking garage,” Newell told the council. “In terms of overall impact, of the people who have gone through this court program, 90% of them have avoided the Woodlawn parking garage, 72% have remained arrest and conviction free, and 66% have refrained from substance abuse. This is information that we get from the police and the courts,“ she said.
“The situation at the garage was exacerbated over the summer when the encampment in the woods was emptied out. So, that’s mainly what is driving the (activity) at the parking garage; they were kicked out of the encampment in the woods and there’s no place else to go just yet,” she said. “We are working on some housing for them.”
200,000 Books: Lyrical Ballad Has A Lot of Stories To Tell
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Fifty-one years running and a collection of 200,000 books stand to greet those who journey to Lyrical Ballad bookstore on Phila Street.
Here, what begins with the first step of an innocent stroll leads to a sequence of new encounters, one room into another, deep and deeper still. Innumerable entryways sink into a labyrinth of characters and events. Things to be learned. Dreams to be launched. It is everything the mind can conjure and a few it never before imagined.
Here is where Congressman Paul Tonko chose to visit this week during a multi-county regional tour to highlight and promote the upcoming Small Business Saturday events this weekend.
“I think of small businesses as the economic engine of our economy,” Tonko said.
“They have a vibrant offering and (provide) an opportunity for the community. Their economic impact is three times greater than that of our chain stores, so we have to be very sensitive to their needs and concerns,” said the congressman while standing framed by rows of leatherbound editions boasting the writings of Henry James, Gustave Flaubert, Balzac, Chekhov, and Thackeray.
“Many small businesses struggled through COVID, and so I also want to hear if they participated in any of the COVID programming, how that worked. We came through a once-in-a-century public health crisis and economic crisis, (which) caused a global inflation. We just want to make sure everybody is strong and steady as we move forward so that they can contribute to the whole economic picture.”
Small Business Saturday - Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 – is promoted as a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. It was initially created in 2010 by American Express on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to Shop Small and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses. In 2011, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of the day.
Lyrical Ballad bookstore was founded by John DeMarco in September 1971. He died in 2019 and two years later DeMarco’s wife Janice sold the bookshop to Charlie Israel and Jason Zerrillo - the latter of whom worked at the shop for more than decade.
“We bought the business because we love the business, and so we don’t want to change it too dramatically “ said Israel, who grew up across the street from Congress Park and remembers spending his allowance money at the shop when he was a kid.
“I don’t want to change this place. It’s part of what makes Saratoga special. You know, I talk to people who are in their 60s now who tell us they used to come here when they went to Skidmore,” he said.
“It’s been a part of the community for a long time and was an anchor when it took a little bit of vision to invest in downtown Saratoga. John (DeMarco) and a few other visionary business people took that on, and that brought Saratoga back from the brink, and I’m eternally grateful to him for that,” said Israel, adding that the notion of the electronic age displacing physical media such as books, has been exaggerated.
“The question hanging in the air is: how is the digital age affecting businesses such as ours? And the answer is: Not as much as you’d think,” Israel said. “We’ve been here 50 years we fully intend to be here for another 50.”
“I like the personalized impact that small business brings. You know, you walk in and you see Charles, or you see Jay – there’s a relationship that develops. And those relationships are important. It builds community,” said Tonko, who couldn’t see his way out of the bookshop without making a handful of purchases - a two-volume set about the Civil War and a book about horse racing, among them.
“We want to bring an awareness of the importance of small businesses and learn what we can do to further sustain them, and enable them to grow,” he said.
See Small Business Saturday pgs. 16-17.
Shots Fired: Altercation Spills Onto Broadway
SARATOGA SPRINGS — An early Sunday morning altercation turned into an exchange of gunfire that spilled onto Broadway and ultimately resulted in approximately 20 shots being fired.
The 3 a.m. incident believed to have begun as a verbal dispute at a bar on Caroline Street between an off-duty Sheriff’s Deputy from Vermont and “a group of individuals from the Utica area,” Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino said, accelerated as the altercation moved west to Broadway with approximately 8 shots being fired. City police officers responding to the incident fired approximately 11 shots after the off-duty deputy allegedly ignored calls to drop his weapon. The incident marks the first discharge of a weapon in the line of duty by a Saratoga Springs officer in more than a quarter-century.
During the initial dispute, the Vermont deputy was physically attacked by at least three people, Montagnino said, during a press conference staged at City Hall Sunday, less than 12 hours after the incident had occurred.
The Vermont man gathered himself at some point during the attack and by “apparently by moving his jacket back, showed the other individuals that he was armed. One of the other individuals then draws a handgun, points it in the direction of the deputy and then apparently begins to fire,” Montagnino said.
Officers responded to the scene.
“What they see is the Vermont sheriff’s deputy, standing on the sidewalk, his gun leveled and moving from side-to-side pointing the gun,” the commissioner said. “The officers repeatedly, loudly direct the deputy, “Drop the gun, get on the ground,’ again, again and again. By my count there are at least eight separate clear unequivocal demands to put the gun down and get on the ground. They are all ignored.”
Three city officers fired a total of approximately 11 shots. The Vermont man suffered a number of wounds. A woman believed to be the Vermont man’s girlfriend was “nicked by one of the bullets in her upper arm.” The man is reportedly in stable condition at Albany Med.
The Vermont man, Vito Caselnova IV, is a Rutland County deputy who has been on the force since April 2019, first reported by WNYT NewsChannel 13. A native of Glens Falls, he graduated from Glens Falls High School in 2016 and school at The College of Saint Rose.
“None of our officers were harmed. That’s something we can all certainly be happy about,” said Mayor Ron Kim.
State police are conducting an investigation into the incident and Broadway was closed from Lake Avenue to Division Street for the majority of the day on Sunday.
“This is the first time in 26 years a (city) officer has discharged a firearm in the line of duty,” Montagnino said. There have been no immediate arrests made in connection with the incident.