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News of Otsego County

Police & Fire

Raging Fire Has Oneonta Lanes’ Future In Doubt

Raging Fire Has Oneonta

Lanes’ Future In Doubt

Inside Oneonta’s Holiday Lanes, the beams survived, but not the alleys.

Avid bowlers may be pursuing their sports in Sidney, Norwich or even Van Hornesville after a raging fire gutted the Holiday Lanes on Oneonta’s Southside in the early morning hours of Friday, April 9.

The Oneonta Fire Department received the call at 1:30 a.m., and fought the blaze with the help of multiple fire departments until 5 a.m., Fire Chief Mike Mancini reported.

With the Town of Oneonta’s water system not expected to be completed until later this year, the big challenge was feeding water to aerial trucks from Stamford, Sidney and the OFDs, Mancini said.

One station was set up near the Susquehanna River’s Southside dam, and another at a pond on Henderson’s Farm, across from Lowe’s.

WEBB: Contribution, Not Good Governance, Resulted in Blinking-Sign Placement
LETTER from JOHN B. WEBB

Contribution, Not Good Governance,

Resulted in Blinking-Sign Placement

New on Pioneer St. Where next?

To the Editor,

Upper Pioneer Street has been defaced by the installation of a large solar-powered speed sign, the kind usually found in commercial districts or at the entrance to municipalities. Around the clock, it flashes the speed of all approaching cars along with a digital display of praise or warning, depending on the car’s speed.

It was placed there, NOT at the request of the police chief who claims to have known absolutely nothing about its installation, but at the request of a Pioneer Street resident who gave the village the money to pay for it. It suddenly appeared without any public vetting of the project whatsoever, and without regard for the residents of Pioneer Street who have to endure its unsightliness and its incessant flashing.

Residents of the village and pedestrians, particularly along Main, Chestnut and Susquehanna streets, main arteries in the village, have all observed countless motorists ignoring the very speed limit posted on the many signs they pass as they speed by. The same is true on residential side streets, such as Pioneer.

As Oneonta Waits, AG To Investigate

Public Weighs Meaning Of Killing, Mayor Says

As Oneonta Waits, AG To Investigate

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

In addition to Sergeant Pajerski’s body cam, at least two videos of the scene are circulating on the Internet.

Not only has a police shooting made history in Oneonta, it’s making statewide history, too.

A new department in the state Attorney General’s Office, the Office of Special Investigations, created by Executive Order 147 after George Floyd’s death last May 25, opened its door on April 1, according to Sofia Quintanar, the AG’s deputy press secretary.

The office is empowered to “investigate and, if warranted, prosecute … a police officer … concerning any incident in which the death of a person, whether in custody or not, is caused by an act or omission.”

Five days later, on Tuesday, April 6, Tyler Green, 23, (also identified as Tyler Johnson in early reports), was shot twice after pulling a knife in a domestic dispute at 48 River St., by Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, an 18-year veteran of the Oneonta Police Department.

“This is the first in the state for our new department,” said Quintanar.

Both officers remain on the job, with Sergeant Pajerski on desk duty while the investigation is in progress, and his partner in responding to the 48 River situation, Officer Kristen Lapointe, resuming her regular duties, said OPD Chief Chris Witzenburg.

Pajerski

With officials and officers who have viewed Pajerski’s body cam saying it shows he acted as he had to, Witzenburg said, “The frustration for me is that it’s taking as long as it’s going to take – 6-8 weeks. But I understand they have an investigative procedure they’ve adopted, and I’m just going to have to trust it.”

After Police Shooting, Public Shows Sensible Restraint
EDITORIAL

After Police Shooting, Public

Shows Sensible Restraint

A number of videos recorded the April 6 shooting.

In an era when everyone rushes to judgment about everything, it’s reassuring to see the sensible, restrained comments on www.AllOTSEGO.com to last week’s police shooting of Tyler Johnson, 23, of 48 River St., during a domestic dispute.

“I’m not saying the cop was wrong,” said one commentator. “The guy had a knife and was grabbing for the woman, then the kid. He even stabbed her in the leg. It’s a sad situation, but I believe the officer did his job.”

“After the guy slashed the woman’s leg, he turned to the male cop and tried to stab him in the leg, too,” wrote another.

“Cop danced back and avoided it. Happened fast.”

“Officer was absolutely correct to do what he did,” said another.

Let’s Not Jump To Conclusions D.A. Muehl Says

Let’s Not Jump

To Conclusions

D.A. Muehl Says

Be Cautious, Prosecutor Cautions:

Eyewitness Accounts ‘Inaccurate’

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

D.A. Muehl

COOPERSTOWN – Eyewitness accounts of last Tuesday’s fatal shooting by a police officer on River Street “have not been accurate,” District Attorney John Muehl said this morning.

“I’ve seen the video,” said Muehl, referring to the body cam worn by Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, who twice shot Tyler Green, 23, of 48 River St., on responding to a domestic disturbance.  Green, also known as Tyler Johnson, later died.

‘Officer Acted To Save Life Of Child By Firing 2 Shots’
ONEONTA MAYOR REPORTS TO PUBLIC:

‘Officer Acted To Save Life
Of Child By Firing 2 Shots’

Tyler Johnson, 23, Takes 2 Bullets In Chest

By MIKE FORSTER ROTHBART & JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

This is a frame from a video taken by Kevin Marcewicz after Tyler Johnson, 23, was shot twice in the chest. Police said he pulled a knife during a domestic dispute at 48 River St., Oneonta, and later died of his wounds.
Tyler Johnson, 23, died from two gunshots to the chest.

A 23-year-old man, Tyler Johnson, was shot twice in the chest after he allegedly pulled a knife at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, during a domestic dispute in a duplex at 48 River St., next to the former Foti’s Bakery.

According to Mayor Gary Herzig, who provided a report to the public via YouTube at the beginning of that evening’s Common Council meeting, two officers responded to “a domestic matter” and found a mother, a 2-year-old child and Johnson at the scene.

A neighbor said the child was Johnson’s; he identified the mother as Caitlyn Marie Calvey, and said she was Johnson’s fiancée.

“While officers were there,” said Herzig, “the third-party male did attack the mother with a knife. She sustained some wounds, but was treated and is OK. One officer acted to save the life of the child by firing two shots. The individual with the knife was injured as a result.”

Officer In Shooting 18-Year OPD Veteran

Officer In Shooting

18-Year OPD Veteran

Troopers Release Sgt. Pajerski’s Name

ONEONTA – A few minutes ago, state police at Sidney identified the Oneonta police office the officer who “fired his duty weapon, striking the subject” as Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, an 18-year veteran of the department.

The state police press release also said the man who was shot twice in the chest was Tyler R. Green, 23; he has been identified in press reports as Tyler Johnson.  He later died en route to Albany Medical Center by Medevac.

Mayor Will Brief Public On Shooting In 7 p.m. Statement

CLICK HERE FOR HERZIG BRIEFING

Mayor Will Brief

Public On Shooting

In 7 p.m. Statement

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Oneonta Mayor Herzig

ONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig plans to brief the public on today’s shooting when Common Council convenes at 7 p.m. today.

Then he’ll issue a press release describing what happened at 1:30 p.m. on River Street, when it appears a police officer shot a knife-wielding man in the chest, perhaps twice.

“I’m still gathering information,” he said a few minutes ago, adding that he believed the man who was shot was still alive.

While declining to release too many details, Herzig did say the wounded man is white, and was medevacked from the city by helicopter, but he didn’t know to where.

Suspect pleads not guilty to attempted murder with car

Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

In Murder Attempt With Car

Why Was Wang Here? Prosecutors Ask

George Wang, right, appeared in Otsego County Court in Cooperstown today, charged with second-degree attempted murder in a November 2020 incident in the Cooperstown Commons parking lot.

COOPERSTOWN – A University of Kansas student, George Wang, charged with second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault for allegedly striking a pedestrian with his car in November in the Cooperstown Commons parking lot,  today pleaded not guilty in Otsego County Court.

Wang was arraigned in County Judge John Lambert’s courtroom, represented by Otsego County Public Defender Brett Cowen. Wang told Lambert he is taking his UK classes remotely this year and has been living with his parents in Queens.

Wang’s connection to Otsego County is still unknown, said First Assistant District Attorney Christopher Di Donna.

Robinson Case to begin April 14

Robinson Case To Begin April 14

Teen accused of killing father for cash, marijuana

Dylan Robinson, then 15, is led into Otsego County Court, Cooperstown for a hearing in October 2019, days after the death of his father. (Libby Cudmore/AllOTSEGO.com)

COOPERSTOWN – The remaining suspect to be tried as an adult in the 2019 murder of Kenneth Robinson of Worcester, his son Dylan Robinson, will see his trial begin with jury selection, which is scheduled for Wednesday, April 14.

Kenneth Robinson, 53, was killed Oct. 10, 2019, in what police and prosecutors have called an attempted robbery of about $5,000 in cash and marijuana. The suspects then attempted to set fire to his house in an effort to disguise the murder.

The police apprehended six suspects soon afterward: Nicolas Meridy, then 32, of Oneonta; Dylan Robinson, then 15, of Worcester; Alexander Borggreen, then 16, of Oneonta; Anais Soto, then 15, of Oneonta; Alexis Lotterman, then 16, of Walton; and Tatiana Febo, then 17, of Downsville.

Pot Shops Becoming Issue Here

Pot Shops Becoming Issue Here

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Mac Benton

Before reacting, the Village Board is waiting to see what the marijuana-legalization bill due to pass the state Legislature April 1 looks like.

But Trustee Mac Benton, who brought the issue before the trustees at their monthly meeting Monday, March 22, is determined to push for pot-selling “storefronts” in Baseball’s mecca, seeing it as an economic-development opportunity too good to ignore.

If the new law doesn’t give the village the authority to make the decision to sell or to manufacture marijuana products, Benton said he will encourage fellow trustees to urge the county Board of Representatives to allow the village to do so.

“It the decision goes to the county,” Benton said in a text, “I’ll urge my fellow trustees to sign onto a letter to the county strongly recommending that Otsego NOT opt out.”

According to Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, there are two bills now under consideration.

Suspect Sought In Heist Attempt

Suspect Sought In Heist Attempt

This white sedan, parked near the bank, is being sought.
The suspect’s image was captured on the bank’s camera.

The suspect in the attempted robbery Monday afternoon, March 22, at NBT Bank’s branch was still at large at presstime Tuesday evening.

The incident occurred at 1:56 p.m. at the 16 Main St. bank. The suspect didn’t threaten the bank’s staff or display a weapon.

State police from the Richfield Springs Barracks are handling the investigation.

Bank robberies, or threat of such, are rare in Otsego County. Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. said the last one he remembers was at the NBT in Edmeston on June 6, 2016, almost five years ago.

Likewise, prosecutions are a rarity, said Assistant District Attorney Chris Di Donna.

Attempted robbery is considered a violent felony under state law, punishable by a prison term of 16 months or more.

TROOPERS SEEK HELP FINDING BANK SUSPECT

SEE ANYTHING? CALL POLICE,  (607) 432-3211

TROOPERS SEEK

HELP FINDING

BANK SUSPECT

White Sedan Possible Getaway

Car In Attempted NBT Bank Heist

This car was seen in the vicinity of the attempted bank robbery, although troopers are unsure what role it might have played in the attempted bank robbery.  (Images courtesy Trooper Aga Dembinska)
State Police at Sidney released this image of the suspect in yesterday’s attempted bank robbery in Cherry Valley.

CHERRY VALLEY – Troopers at Richfield Springs are actively investigating an attempted bank robbery in Cherry Valley, and seeking help identifying the suspect.

The incident occurred at 1:56 p.m. yesterday at the NBT Bank, 16 Main St.  The suspect did not threaten or display a weapon.

The suspect is described as a white male, with a darker complexion.   He appears to be 30-40 years of age and is approximately 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-7 tall.

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