Shots fired at Crossgates, no one hurt

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Shoppers leave Crossgates Mall on Wednesday evening after being released from lockdown.

GUILDERLAND — Crossgates Mall was locked down after reports of gunfire on Wednesday afternoon. No one was injured, police say, and, as of Wednesday evening, no suspects were in custody.

“This afternoon around four o’clock, the Guilderland Police Department received several calls for shots fired inside Crossgates Mall by the Foot Locker,” Guilderland’s deputy police chief, Curtis Cox, told press who had assembled for a briefing at the Westmere firehouse Wednesday evening.

The Foot Locker is on the bottom floor of the mall, a few doors from Lord & Taylor. Cox said the department had received “quite confident information that there were shots fired.”

He said there was no way to tell at this point how many shots were fired. “When you’re inside an enclosed space, one can sound like 20,” he said.

“Units were immediately deployed to the mall, including our mall officers,” said Cox. “We immediately started to clear the mall.”

Police agencies from across the Capital Region converged in Guilderland to assist. The exits and entrances to the mall were blocked off and police officers with high-caliber rifles stood watch at the doors.

Other police gathered, with a command center, set up in the nearby Walmart parking lot.

The incident “appears to have been between known acquaintances,” said a statement from Pyramid Management Group, which owns the mall. “The altercation resulted in the discharge of a firearm inside our facility … Crossgates immediately went into lockdown,” Pyramid said.

Cox, who spoke to the press at around 7 p.m., said then that the clearing of the mall was still in progress. Shoppers could be seen leaving the mall, some of them with bags of goods in hand, to return to their cars.

Cox said that not just police, but merchants, store managers, and workers all train for such situations.

“We have no reports of any injuries,” said Cox. “We feel that this is an isolated incident. It wasn’t a long-duration active-shooting event.”

Cox offered no details on a suspect. “We’re still trying to piece that together,” he said.

He also would not say if casings had been found or if a weapon was recovered. Nor would he say if the shooting could have been gang-related.

A gun was fired in Crossgates Mall on Nov. 12, 2016. Tasheem Maewhether, of Albany, was arrested. No one was injured, and no weapon was ever found.

A jury found Maeweather not guilty of three of four counts against him: attempted murder, attempted assault, and criminal possession of a firearm. But the jury found Maeweather guilty of the lowest charge — reckless endangerment. He was 21 when he was sentenced in June 2017 and is currently in prison.

During his trial, the prosecution said the shooting was related to gang activity.

“We trained and we learned from our last incident,” said Cox on Wednesday.

He stressed that the current investigation is ongoing and called on anyone who had been at Crossgates at the time of the shooting to contact police.

“If anyone was in the mall and [had] seen anything at the time, no matter how minute they feel the detail might be, please contact the Guilderland Police Department,” said Cox. “The number is 518-356-1501.”

Crossgates Mall reopened fully on July 10 after being closed for four months, like malls across New York as part of the state’s effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Before the closing, Crossgates Mall had a series of brawls, and another one after stores with outside entrances opened in June.

Because of this pattern, the Guilderland Police Department started an initiative known as Retail Intervention Detail, Cox said. RID officers are sent to the mall and placed in strategic areas that have experienced these incidents before, Cox said, so they can be on hand quickly if something happens.

In February, before the pandemic caused Crossgates to close, the town of Guilderland announced an agreement with Pyramid Management to increase mall patrols.

Under the agreement, Cox told The Enterprise in February, Pyramid would pay for two new police officers for the town. In return, the police department would expand the hours of two officers who are currently stationed at Crossgates on an as-available basis; investigators John Laviano and Adam Myers were to work full-time at the mall.

With its tenants closed under public-health orders, Pyramid said in March it would stop making payments for police officers the town had hired.

The town is keeping the two full-time officers on its payroll, Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber told The Enterprise in March, and Pyramid Management Group had already made one quarterly payment of a little over $30,000.

Barber said in March that the town has had recent retirements in its police force and could weather the short-term financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic with its savings.

Asked in mid-June what was happening with the Pyramid agreement, Cox said, “Right now, there is no definitive answer.”

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