Schenectady County

Cops respond to fight near Festa

City and state police fought with a wild and unruly group of more than 100 youths near St. Anthony’s
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City and state police fought with a wild and unruly group of more than 100 youths near St. Anthony’s Festa Friday night, using pepper spray on one and arresting three.

The incident occurred at 11 p.m., after the festival was closing. Police reported no more incidents Saturday and Sunday, when the festival concluded.

Police department spokesman Lt. Brian Kilcullen said at least 20 officers tried to disperse the youths, who also fought with each other and jumped on vehicles parked near the annual festival on Seward Place and Union Street.

“Some individuals refused to leave and continued their riotous behavior and were placed under arrest,” Kilcullen said.

Officers used pepper spray on Antwone J. Gardner, 16, of Schenectady, and charged him with resisting arrest and unlawful assembly, both misdemeanors, and disorderly conduct, a violation. Court papers said Gardner fought with officers attempting to place handcuffs on him. He also allegedly refused commands to disperse and “engaged in violent and tumultuous behavior.”

Zaquan J. Walley, 16, of Schenectady also was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He allegedly punched Assistant Police Chief Jack Falvo in the chest and fought with officers trying to place handcuffs on him.

The third youth, Ekeem O.S. Williams, 16, of Schenectady, was charged with unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. The three youths were arraigned Monday in City Court.

The incidents occurred at Roger Hull Place and Seward Place, according to police. The festival is located at the upper end of Seward Place, about a block from Roger Hull Place.

St. Anthony’s pastor, the Rev. John Medwid, said he saw the youths and police near Roger Hull Place. “I don’t know what drew them to the area,” he said. He said the incidents occurred away from the festival, more toward the college, which is across the street from the church. The church uses the college’s parking lot for children’s rides and games.

Medwid said the incident will not discourage church officials from running the festival next year. “We will go on,” he said.

Kilcullen said police had limited resources with which to deal with the incident and would have charged more youths if they had more officers at the scene. “Given the resources we had, those were the ones we could safely take into custody,” he said. “Our intent was to send everyone on their way.”

No one was injured, Kilcullen said, although police had to decontaminate Gardner, who was hit by pepper spray. He said he did not believe the youths were part of organized gangs.

Kilcullen said the city placed added officers at the festival on Saturday and Sunday and there were no more arrests.

A man who attended the festival Friday night with his family told The Daily Gazette the situation was “scary, it was a bad, scary situation.” The man did not want to be identified.

“At 10:30 p.m. it was all quiet and then it broke loose. You could see stuff breaking out by the rides and things going on in middle of the festival. It was awful,” he said.

The man said he and his family have been going to the festival for years, and “now it’s gotten to the point where the only festival I want to go to is out of town.”

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