On a dark night two views of vandals 146 crime

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Four Guilderland High School students, three of them wielding baseball bats, were arrested Monday after police say they were trying to burglarize the new house at Farnsworth Middle School.

One of the teens, though, says he had no intention of burglarizing the school and he wishes the police officer who followed them Monday night had stopped them before they got to the school; each now faces a felony charge.

The four teens, all males, police say, damaged a scoreboard and a window screen in Seneca House, part of an ongoing $20 million expansion project at the school on Route 155.

Donald Maccallum, 16, of Wilson Court in Guilderland, and Michael Futia, 19, of Christopher Lane in Altamont, were arrested along with two 15-year-olds whose names are being withheld by police because of their ages.

All four were charged with third-degree attempted burglary, a felony, and with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

Police view

David Romano, an investigator with the Guilderland Police Department, described the way events unfolded Monday night.
At about 9 p.m., Romano was patrolling in a nearby area for criminal activity, he said. "They left where I was watching and walked towards the school," he said. "Three of the four were carrying baseball bats; they did damage as they walked to the school."
Why were they damaging property" "That’s a good question," said Romano. "I have no idea."
Asked what they were damaging, Romano replied, "It was dark; I couldn’t see but I could hear things being broken."
Romano had called for backup but was alone, following the four on foot, he said. "I was keeping my distance; I didn’t want to spook them," he said.

The foursome stayed away from the lit area of the building, where custodians were working in the school, Romano said.
"They went to a window and cut open a screen," he said. "They tried to get in the window, but it was locked."

Then, Romano said, the four boys began stacking things, like garbage cans, in order to climb onto the roof.
"That could have been a disaster," he said, indicating that one of them could have fallen off the roof in the dark. He also said the teens would have been hard to confront or contain on the roof.

So, even though the backup police Romano had called had not yet arrived, he decided to make his move and confront the boys.
"I made a judgment call...At first it looked like they might have wanted to test me," said Romano. "We had a conversation, the five of us...They decided to comply and went to the ground."
Asked about the motive for the attempted break-in, Romano said, "We can’t discuss too much since the case is pending in court."

Maccallum and Futia are scheduled to appear in Guilderland Town Court on June 23, Romano said, and the two 15-year-olds will appear in Juvenile Court at about the same time.

Suspect’s view

Michael Futia spoke to The Enterprise yesterday; Maccallum did not return a call requesting comment.
Futia, a Guilderland High School senior, hopes to go to Hudson Valley Community College next year "to explore more" with an eye on studying criminal justice, he said.
"Growing up, I always watched cops on TV," he said. "I kind of want to be a cop. I’d like to be a State Trooper."

Futia said he had been arrested once before, for shoplifting at the mall, but hasn’t been in trouble since then.
Asked if the three others who were arrested with him Monday were his friends, Futia replied, "Yeah, they’re friends, but not anymore, really."

He described Monday night’s events this way.
"We were just hanging around my friend’s house in Presidential Estates....," he said. "We went out for a walk."

Futia said he and the others did not target the school; they just happened to head in that direction. As they walked, they happened to come across three baseball bats lying on the football field, he said.
"The other kids picked them up," Futia said. "They started hitting one of those little scoreboards. They each took a swing at the scoreboard....We just kept walking towards the middle school."
He went on, "It wasn’t a plan. We weren’t going to go burglarize the middle school...One of the kids cut the screen with a rock and tore it open...I really don’t know why he did that....We weren’t trying to get in...We had no intention of doing anything to the school...
"What we did was stupid but we weren’t trying to get in or steal anything...One kid took a garbage can and tried getting on top of the roof...I don’t know why."
He concluded, "I was there. But I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything....I should have left. I didn’t touch the school at all. It was stupid of me to be there."
Futia also asked, "If Officer Romano was following us the whole time, why didn’t he stop us at the scoreboard" Why did he follow us to the school""
Tamara Futia said of her son, "He did a stupid thing. We’re just concentrating on getting through school and graduation. Basically, he’s a good kid. We want him to get on with his life."

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