Told Officers ‘Shoot Out’ Imminent; No Weapons Found
ONEONTA – An Oneonta man was arrested after he allegedly made a series of calls to the Oneonta Police Department, falsely accusing neighbors of being “involved in a drug deal” and brandishing a handgun.
According to Police Chief Doug Brenner, Thomas E. Harker, 64, Oneonta, allegedly called the Oneonta Police department yesterday afternoon, first to report an alleged drug deal, then made a second call, where he allegedly told police he witnessed one of the two men pull out a handgun.
“He told officers there was going to be ‘a shoot-out’,” said Brenner.
Police officers Brandon Damiani and Edmund Donley responded to the scene, where, believing one of the men to be armed with a weapon, retrieved an AR-15 223 rifle from their patrol car. “You meet the degree of force with which you’re presented,” said Brenner. “The officers were able to get cover behind their vehicle and open up with verbal commands.”
The two accused men were ordered to get on the ground, but after discussion and a search by the officers, were found not to be in possession of a weapon or drugs.
“These guys weren’t doing anything wrong,” said Brenner. “(Harker) knew damn well they didn’t have a gun. Things could have gotten really serious, but it’s a testament to our officers, who did a good job of communicating and explaining the situation, that it didn’t.”
Harker was arrested and charged with filing a false report and reckless endangerment, and the officers apologized to the two men. “I feel bad for them,” said Brenner. “They did nothing, but they were ordered around. Yes, we arrested the man who accused them, but that doesn’t seem like much consolation.”