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SARATOGA SPRINGS

Saratoga Springs police officers fire weapons at off-deputy Vermont deputy after shootout

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Three Saratoga Springs police officers shot an off-duty Vermont sheriff’s deputy early Sunday morning after authorities said he ignored repeated commands to drop his weapon that had been used in a shootout moments earlier on Broadway.

“Outside of a training exercise or putting down a rabid animal, this is the first time an officer of the Saratoga Springs Police Department had to discharge a firearm in the line of duty in 26 years,” said Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino at a Sunday afternoon news conference.

The incident took place just after 3 a.m. near the intersection of Broadway and Caroline streets. Montagnino said it started as a verbal altercation between the deputy and a group of about six people, some or all of whom are from the Utica area.

“The verbal altercation leads to a physical assault. The Vermont deputy is physically attacked by at least three people. He’s slammed into the hood of a car. He’s knocked to the ground,” Montagnino said.

At that point, Montagnino said the man, who police are not yet identifying, picks himself up off the ground and pulls his jacket back to reveal that he is armed.

“One of the other individuals then draws a handgun and points in the direction of the deputy and apparently begins to fire. The deputy draws his handgun and shots are exchanged,” he said.

About seven or eight shots are exchanged, according to Montagnino.

Three Saratoga Springs police officers heard the gunfire, ran up Caroline Street and turned around the corner. They saw the Vermont sheriff’s deputy standing on the sidewalk and pointing and waving the gun from side to side. The officers repeatedly told him to drop the weapon.

“By my count, there are at least eight separate, clear, unequivocal commands to put the gun down and get on the ground. They are all ignored,” Montagnino said.

“The deputy is turning with the gun in his hand and our officers fire a number of shots,” he added. “From the beginning of the incident to the end of the incident is less than a minute.”

Montagnino believes a total of 11 shots were fired by the three Saratoga Springs police officers. The man has 10 bullet wounds, but he said that it has not been determined how many are entry and exit wounds.

The Saratoga Springs officers began providing aid to the deputy and to the person who the deputy apparently shot, who is lying on Broadway. Montagnino said a third person, believed to be the deputy’s girlfriend, was nicked by one of the bullets. One of the police officers put her arm in a tourniquet. All three victims were taken to the hospital and are in stable condition.

Nightlife concerns

Montagnino pointed out that the incident occurred in the very busy nightlife district.

“It should raise everyone’s consciousness as to the dangerous mix of alcohol and weapons, assuming of course there is connection between the two,” he said. “We know the incident occurred at 3 o’clock in the morning and nothing good happens at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

He said he plans to speak to the local businesses about the possibility of them “wanding” individuals for weapons when they enter the establishment. He noted that another business on Caroline Street that recently reopened after a shutdown had that as a condition of its reopening.

Mayor Ron Kim shares that view.

“If you’re on Caroline Street drinking, you don’t need weapons,” he said.

As for possible concerns over violation of civil liberties, Kim pointed out that people are searched for weapons when they enter Disney World or a sporting arena.

“If you think that’s a civil liberty issue then you don’t have to go into that area during that time period,” he said.

State police are handling the bulk of the investigation.

Broadway from Lake Avenue to Division was closed for a good part of Sunday because of the investigation.

Police are asking anyone who may have video footage of the incident to upload it to https://saratogaspringspdny.evidence.com/axon/citizen/public/broadwayandcaroline.

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