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Police: Confrontation led to downtown shooting in Saratoga Springs

A still of police body camera footage depicting one of the alleged shooters on the sidewalk on Broadway following Sunday's early morning shooting in Saratoga Springs
City of Saratoga Springs Police Department video uploaded to YouTube
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Image capture by WAMC
A still of police body camera footage depicting one of the alleged shooters on the sidewalk on Broadway following Sunday's early morning shooting in Saratoga Springs

Three people were injured in a chaotic early morning shooting Sunday in Saratoga Springs that involved city police. A warning – this story contains details that some may find disturbing.

Around 3 a.m. Sunday morning, Saratoga Springs police responded to audible gunfire at the corner of Broadway and Caroline Street, where many of the city’s bars and nightclubs are located.

According to city officials, an altercation between an off-duty Rutland, Vermont sheriff’s deputy and a group of unidentified individuals led to the shooting in which three were injured.

Sunday afternoon at Saratoga Springs City Hall, Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino, a Democrat, walked reporters through some of the events leading up to the shooting.

“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. He picks himself up and is seen showing, by apparently moving his jacket back, showing the other individuals that he is armed. One of the other individuals then draws a handgun and points it in the direction of the deputy and apparently begins to fire. The deputy draws his handgun, shots are exchanged,” said Montagnino.

Montagnino said officers who responded to the sound of gunfire seconds later observed the deputy, who was not immediately identified, waving his gun and ignoring commands from police to drop the weapon.

“By my count, there are at least 8 separate, clear, unequivocal commands to put the gun down and get on the ground. They are all ignored.”

Three city officers, also not immediately identified, then fired at the deputy.

Police body-worn camera footage of the incident was played to reporters. Officials said the footage was being released in the interest of transparency.

“Put the gun down! Gun down!”

The deputy reportedly sustained 10 gunshot injuries in the altercation, though the exact nature of how he was injured has not been fully determined.

Montagnino said it was the first time in 28 years an officer with the city police department used a firearm in the line of duty in such a manner. The officers will be put on administrative leave, as per city policy, said Montagnino.

The man allegedly shot by the deputy, and the deputy shot by city police, were both transported to the hospital and were reportedly in stable condition.

A third person injured after being “nicked” by a bullet in upper arm during the exchange is reportedly the deputy’s girlfriend, according to Montagnino.

New York State Police are assisting in an investigation. A section of Broadway between Lake Avenue and Division Street was closed Sunday morning as police remained on scene.

Asked about additional security measures, Montagnino said he would gauge input from downtown businessowners about voluntarily wanding bar patrons with metal detectors.

“I’m going to meeting with the bar and restaurant owners and discussing the wisdom of adopting a policy of wanding all patrons,” said Montagnino.

Montagnino mentioned the security protocols that include wanding instituted at Gaffney’s, a bar that was re-opened earlier this year after its liquor license was temporarily revoked following a string of violent late-night incidents.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim, a fellow Democrat, said he supports a cordoning off Caroline Street and searching bar-goers to enhance security.

“We do that at Disney World. Nobody seems to object. We do that at sports venues. We should do it on Caroline Street during certain hours because drinking and weapons don’t mix, obviously,” said Kim.

Multiple agencies assisted with the response early Sunday. A criminal investigation is ongoing. No charges have yet been announced.

The New York State Attorney General’s office has reportedly been advised of the incident. State law gives the Attorney General the authority to review fatal police encounters.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.