GESD superintendent clarifies incident involving BB gun

GLOVERSVILLE — In a letter to parents, Gloversville Enlarged School District Interim Superintendent Robert DeLilli clarified on Wednesday that an incident in which one student shot another with a BB gun at Gloversville Middle School on Monday took place in the building’s basement level near the district administrative offices and the student’s subsequent arrest took place in DeLilli’s office on Tuesday.

City police stated in a press release Tuesday that a 16-year-old male had been taken into custody at Gloversville High School for allegedly shooting another juvenile with a BB pistol several times on Monday inside of the middle school around 11 a.m.

The juvenile suspect was charged with misdemeanors for second-degree menacing, endangering the welfare of a child and third-degree attempted assault and a violation for unlawful possession of a weapon on school grounds.

Due to the male’s age and the charges filed against him, city police said that no information regarding his identity can be released.

On Thursday, DeLilli confirmed that the suspect in the incident was a high school student who was in the basement area of the middle school on Monday attending a tutoring center located in that area of the building. DeLilli noted that students may be required to participate in the tutoring program held during normal school hours for a variety of reasons including medical needs or while serving in school suspensions.

DeLilli said that the basement area of the middle school is removed from the instructional area of the building, the victim was attending the tutoring program as well and no one aside from the two subjects of the alleged incident were present when it occurred.

In his letter, DeLilli said that school officials were made aware of the incident after receiving a call from the parent of one of the involved students on Tuesday morning reporting the incident. Immediately afterwards, school officials interviewed the two students and notified the city police department.

City police then responded to the high school, saying they made contact with the victim who alleged that he had been approached by the suspect in the middle school at around 11 a.m. Monday, who then chased him and shot him with a BB pistol. The victim sustained a minor injury as a result of the incident.

Patrol officers reportedly took the suspect into custody while detectives located the BB pistol used in the offense and secured the item. Members of both units interviewed several people before charging the suspect, who was processed and arraigned in City Court.

DeLilli said that the student’s arrest took place in his office, away from the student body, and the student did not bring the BB pistol to school on Tuesday. The BB gun was not located on school property when confiscated by police.

In addition to the charges he now faces, DeLilli’s letter stated that the suspected student is prohibited from being on school grounds.

DeLilli noted that some parents were critical of the school district for waiting until Wednesday release details related to the incident, but he said the district could not release information until police conducted and concluded their investigation.

“We did not want to put that [investigation] into jeopardy at all,” DeLilli said. “We can’t impede police.”

Following the incident, DeLilli said that the school district is getting quotes to install a keycard reader to limit unsupervised entrance to the basement administrative area of the middle school to faculty members. The reader would be placed on the access door connecting the basement and the regular instructional area of the school as a precautionary measure.

DeLilli said there is no need for students to use the door connecting the two floors of the building and a similar card reader already exists on the door leading to the administrative area on the outside of the building.

DeLilli added that the district submitted a Smart School Bond Act application to the state over a year ago that is waiting for approval to release funds that would contribute to security upgrades including additional security cameras, phone and public address system upgrades and a two-way radio communication system to enhance communication between buildings.

In recent months, the GESD Board of Education has been discussing options to improve school safety such as installing a bullet resistant coating on building windows or hiring a school resource officer. DeLilli said that previous discussions regarding the possible acquisition and installation of metal detectors at school entrances have not been revisited at this time.

“As educators and as parents ourselves, we are deeply concerned by incidents such as the one that occurred Monday. We want parents and students to know that we take our responsibility to keep our students and staff safe very seriously. Safety remains our first priority and is an ongoing effort in each of our school buildings,” DeLilli’s letter read.

Prior to Monday’s incident, the school district had engaged in a continual review of existing security protocols and procedures among both students and staff. DeLilli said that educating students on school policies and appropriate conduct with the assistance of staff and mental health professionals is another important component to school safety.

DeLilli stressed the importance of students, parents and staff contacting school administrators to report any suspicious or unusual behavior or threats of violence made towards students or schools. He noted that any reported threats whether physical in nature or over social media will be taken seriously and fully investigated by administrators and police.

“The power of observation and collective awareness is our best effort,” DeLilli said. “We will continue to make our schools a safe environment.”