Schenectady County

Gassed man pulled from Sch’dy apartment during standoff

Police pulled a man accused of threatening officers out of his apartment just before noon Monday aft

Police pulled a man accused of threatening officers out of his apartment just before noon Monday after a standoff, authorities said.

Police in body armor eventually sent tear gas into the upstairs apartment at 1875 Foster Ave. on the city’s North Side.

The gas, which irritates the eyes among other effects, did not force the man out, so officers went in and pulled him out.

Officers could be seen escorting the struggling man down the Manhattan Street side of the apartment building and into a waiting police car on Foster Avenue.

Police later identified him as Steven Betulia, 59. He was taken to Ellis Hospital for a mental health evaluation.

At least one member of the team was injured, and taken to Ellis Hospital by ambulance on a stretcher waiting on Manhattan Street. A police spokesman later was unsure whether the officer was overcome by the gas or injured some other way. The officer, though, was treated and released from the hospital.

The gas also wafted down to street level, affecting onlookers at the intersection of Foster and Manhattan. Police briefly had to order the onlookers back, away from the escaping gas.

The incident began at about 8 a.m. when officers responded to a report of neighbor trouble. It was unclear who called police, department spokesman Sgt. Adriel Linyear said.

“As officers investigated,” Linyear said, “they talked to the upstairs neighbor and he became uncooperative and made threats to officers, actually that he was going to shoot through the door.”

With that threat, the officers backed out and called in the department’s Emergency Response Team. The building was evacuated, as were some neighboring homes.

Just before noon, after the man refused to come out, officers sent in the gas and pulled him out.

Waiting out the situation down Foster Avenue was Flora Stella, who lives across Foster from the apartment building and said she knows the man.

“He’s never out of the house,” Stella said. “He’s always in. He never bothers anybody.”

She did recall one time previously where she said police took the man away, having to knock his door down in the process. Police later confirmed prior interactions with the man, but not the details.

From her interactions with the man, she said she believed it may be an issue with his medication.

No charges had been filed as of Monday afternoon but the man has faced charges previously.

In May 2009, Betulia was accused of telling a man he wanted to fight him, then stated he had a gun. It was part of an ongoing pattern of harassment between the target and the target’s wife, according to papers filed in court then.

He was charged with violation-level harassment, pleaded guilty and was fined $100, records show.

The month before, Betulia was charged with criminal trespass for allegedly trespassing on a Manhattan Street property. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served, records show.

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