Man charged in Crossgates shooting pleads ‘not guilty’

Tasheem Maewether, Crossgates shooting

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Tasheem Maeweather is escorted into Guilderland Town Court on Monday evening. He pleaded “not guilty” to two felony charges — reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. Police say he fired the gunshot that caused the evacuation and lockdown at Crossgates Mall on Saturday.

GUILDERLAND — Tasheem Maeweather stood taller than the police officers who escorted him to the judge in front of the Guilderland courtroom Monday evening. The slim 20-year-old from Albany is the accused shooter in the incident that cleared Crossgates Mall Saturday afternoon.

He is charged with two felonies: reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon.

Maeweather was dressed entirely in black — a black hoodie and pants with Air Nike sneakers. His ankles and wrists were manacled. He spelled his name for Judge Denise Randall and said he had lived at 474 North Pearl Street in Albany all of his life. He did not know the ZIP code.

“Are you employed?” asked the judge.

Maeweather hesitated, as if unsure of the meaning.

Cynthia Preiser, with the Albany County Public Defender’s Office, translated for him, “Do you have a job?”

He doesn’t.

The judge then asked if he was a student. He said he was at “night school.” He was unable to spell the name of the school but said it was next to Albany High School.

Asked what he was studying, Maeweather said he was not sure.

“IEP,” your honor,” said Preiser, referencing an Individual Education Plan, used for students with disabilities.

Preiser entered a plea of “not guilty” for Maeweather.

Assistant District Attorney Brittany Grome said that Maeweather had a prior felony conviction, with probation from November 2015 until 2020, noting he had “done less than a year.”

She also noted there was eyewitness and video evidence for the current charges and said, “We do believe he’s a flight risk.” She said the crimes Maeweather is accused of showed a “disregard for human life” and also that he was “a clear and present danger.”

Preiser countered that there was no documentation supporting that Maeweather possessed a handgun and asked the court to dismiss the accusatory incident.

“His family are here,” she said, noting he was in school and on probation, asserting he was not a flight risk.

Randall denied the motion to dismiss the charge as insufficient on its face, and remanded Maeweather to Albany County’s jail without bail. She set a preliminary hearing for 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, at Guilderland Town Court.

Maeweather asked if the case would go to trial.

“Your attorney has preserved all your rights, including a right to a trial,” said Randall.

Outside the locked town hall, a long line of people, awaiting the regular court session to start, stretched well into the parking lot.

“Right away”

Just before Maeweather’s arraignment, Guilderland Police Chief Carol Lawlor told the press that police had identified Maeweather as the suspect “right away through video surveillance.” He was then identified from a line-up by a witness, she said, noting there were “a lot of people in the area.”

The call on the shooting occurred at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday afternoon on the sprawling mall’s lower level near the entrance to the Apple and Burlington Coat Factory stores.

No one was hurt. Police forces from throughout the area converged on the scene and those mall customers and workers who did not immediately flee were locked down in stores — some of them for up to seven hours — as police swept the mall.

Evidence says just one shot was fired, Lawlor said, because of a “dispute between two individuals.”

She told The Enterprise, “We don’t have the victim yet.” She also said the cause for the dispute is unknown, nor is it known if it is gang-related. “The investigation is still in its infancy,” she said; no weapon has been found.

Guilderland Police Senior Investigator Thomas Funk said, explaining why some bystanders said they heard two or three shots, “A firearm fired in the mall will echo.”

Funk also said that Maeweather had been on probation for drug sales.

Lawlor said that initially police had not released the video or much information because “we didn’t want to give out information that would make him unavailable.”

Albany Police, she said, kept Maeweather’s home at 474 North Pearl St. under surveillance. He was taken into custody without incident at a car wash, she said; his blue 2007 BMW was taken into evidence.

The Enterprise asked Michael Shanley, a partner in the Pyramid Cos., which owns Crossgates, if the mall would change its procedures to screen for weapons. “We’ve been going full speed for the past 48 hours,” he said. “We will be looking at our procedures.”

Asked how much money the mall lost with its shut-down from Saturday afternoon until re-opening Sunday morning, Shanley said, “That’s not a priority” and he wouldn’t know how to calculate it.

“We’re just thrilled no one was hurt and the suspect is in custody,” he said.

Joe Castaldo, director of shopping center management at Pyramid Management Group, said, “We just completed training with a similar drill with lockdowns with state and federal authorities. The feedback I’ve heard from customers and tenants, from everyone, is this went extremely well. People were sheltered in place.”

More Guilderland News

  • A fairy-tale book released by J.K. Rowling to entertain kids confined by the pandemic lured 12-year-old Isla Besha of Altamont to draw a picture that was chosen, in an international contest, to illustrate the book.

  • The fifth case, at Guilderland High School, was announced Wednesday in an email from Superintendent Marie Wiles. That last case forced the high school to all-remote learning, beginning on Thursday, Nov. 19, and lasting until Thanksgiving break, which starts on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

  • Borrego Solar is seeking variances to be able to clear-cut more trees than code allows and to have its solar panels located closer to all the neighbors’ property lines than what is currently allowed by law, which was one of the reforms included in the April amendments package to the town’s solar law.

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