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Albany's mayor, police chief update investigation into deadly weekend shootout

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Police Chief Eric Hawkins says it has not been established that the illegal business at 117 North Lake Ave. was catering to motorcycle clubs.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Police Chief Eric Hawkins gave an update Thursday afternoon on a fatal Saturday night shootout linked to rival groups.

Police Chief Eric Hawkins said the groups exchanged gunfire outside what the city has called an illegal nightclub at 117 North Lake Avenue. 29-year-old Alexander Bolton of New Bedford, Massachusetts was killed in the shooting.

“Our preliminary investigation clearly indicates that the homicide victim was with, and a part of, the group that walked from Central Avenue and confronted the other group at 117 North Lake Avenue. As we've reported, we have already arrested 10 individuals as a result of the ongoing investigation, including seven who live in Troy, one who lives in Ballston Spa, and one who lives in Schenectady. We've confiscated two illegal handguns. This shooting incident is a painful reminder of the traumatic impact gun violence has on individuals and families in our community. While we're still in the early stages of our investigation, I am confident that we will bring those responsible to justice,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins says more than 70 shell casings were found outside, after two groups of people engaged in a gun battle there. “We suspect that there are some weapons that are out there, if we don't have all of the weapons that are involved. In fact, we know we don't, it's just a matter of fact. And that's, that's what you know, we talked about the sensitive nature of this investigation. And that's why we're very hesitant to put out too much at this point, because it could hinder our ability to find those other weapons. And not only the weapons, but we still have to find these individuals who caused the death of this young man. And we need to bring that person or those people in custody.”

Hawkins says the building was first cited for code violations in 2020. He adds it has not been established that the illegal business was catering to motorcycle clubs.

“We’ve heard for for a while that there was a possibility that we we've had organized groups in our city, whether they be biker gangs, or other types of gangs or groups. And so it's been on our radar for a while. Now, with this incident here, we just don't have enough information at this point, to either confirm or deny that we have biker gangs that are involved in this particular incident, “ according to Hawkins, who added there is nothing to indicate Bolton carried or fired a gun.

Mayor Sheehan encourages residents to report any indication of illegal activities occurring in business or buildings in the city.

“We are looking to work with our community and with our businesses to help them to be safe spaces. We, I have submitted a request to the State Liquor Authority to revoke the liquor license for 117 North Lake Avenue for a number of reasons, first, I believe that this liquor license should not have been given to this establishment as it was, is within 200 feet of a school, “ said the mayor.

Sheehan says she's not out to shut businesses down, but wants to keep their patrons and city residents safe.

The investigation into the shooting continues.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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