Police charge two in Amsterdam man’s death

Police charged two city men early Friday in the fatal shooting of a 35-year-old man in the city’s Ea

Police charged two city men early Friday in the fatal shooting of a 35-year-old man in the city’s East End the day before.

At a news conference Friday morning, Detective Lt. Thomas DiMezza of the Amsterdam Police Department said that Josue Santos-Rivera, 22, of Charles Lane, Apt. S-8, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Jose Payano of 8 McCleary Ave. A second man, Gilbert Muniz, 27, of 24 Jay St., was charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree murder.

Police said Payano was shot about 1 p.m. during a confrontation outside 25 Lark St. Witnesses said two men fled the scene immediately after the shooting, and police began a search that eventually included city police, Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies and state police.

DiMezza said Santa-Rivera was found about 4:30 p.m., less than four hours after the shooting. Muniz’s family convinced him to turn himself in to police, which he did about 90 minutes later, DiMezza said. Both were questioned through the evening, DiMezza said, and one of the men admitted to the shooting shortly before midnight.

“I truly believe that these guys thought they could talk their way out of this,” DiMezza said. “They thought they could come in and just deny everything.”

DiMezza said Santos-Rivera was able to tell investigators where he put the gun believed to be used in the shooting. Officers located the weapon about 6 a.m. in a wooded area on Swan Street, one block from the murder scene.

DiMezza said investigators found seven casings at the scene and believe Payano was shot at least five times, once in the head and four more times in the torso.

An autopsy was performed Friday at Albany Medical Center Hospital to determine which shot actually killed Payano.

DiMezza said an argument over a woman is believed to have escalated, leading to the shooting. DiMezza said the woman involved has been identified, but he is not releasing her name.

He said apparently the woman had a child with Muniz. Muniz and Payano were arguing before Santos-Rivera became involved, DiMezza said, and the fight escalated until Santos-Rivera shot Payano.

DiMezza said Muniz and his family have lived in Amsterdam for a long time, while Santos-Rivera moved to the area from Puerto Rico recently. He is here legally.

The two men were arraigned in Amsterdam City Court Friday and sent to the Montgomery County jail.

“Not only are incidents like this an aberration in Amsterdam, but, more importantly, the speed of the investigation is something to be proud of,” Police Chief Thomas Brownell said.

Brownell attributed the investigation’s conclusion to cooperation by many law enforcement agencies and from the public.

“People are not afraid to come forward and cooperate with police,” Brownell said.

Friday afternoon, a man who identified himself only as Payano’s brother, stood in front of a small memorial with pictures, a letter, candles and flowers surrounding a small post near the crime scene.

A similar memorial had also been installed on Payano’s front lawn.

“Along with the family, there is an entire community in mourning for Mr. Payano,” Julia Caro, an employee at Centro Civico, the Hispanic community services organization, said.

Caro said she knew Payano since high school.

Payano was a graduate of Amsterdam High School, where, Caro said, he was well liked and involved in basketball.

Caro also called him “a great father, a great community member and a positive influence on adolescents.”

“Mr. Payano will be extremely missed in our community,” she said. “He was well loved and his life was stolen from him.”

Centro Civico Director Ladan Alomar said the center is planning to conduct some outreach programs to give community members an avenue to express their feelings about the situation.

She is also planning to conduct some youth outreach to teach youngsters better ways to deal with feelings of anger and aggression.

“This just happened a few blocks from here and from where our kids go to school,” she said. “This is a shock to the entire community.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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