Schenectady County

Schenectady man’s assault death a mystery

A longtime city resident died from injuries suffered Thursday night in an assault on State Street, p

A longtime city resident died from injuries suffered Thursday night in an assault on State Street, police said.

But exactly how the man died, and whether his death can be officially ruled a homicide, was unclear Friday, with police looking to an autopsy scheduled for today, hoping it can provide better answers.

Dead is 43-year-old Harold Gotti, of Schenectady. Those who knew him said Gotti was a genial man who often rode his bike around the central State Street area doing odd jobs.

He died after being the victim of what police referred to as an assault on the sidewalk in front of 1255 State St. just after 9 p.m. Thursday. Police were awaiting the results of today’s autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

With him at the time were two other people, police spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken said.

“Three people were present,” he said, including Gotti in the number. “It is unknown who did what.”

The death Friday was officially “suspicious,” McCracken said.

He gave few other details on the case. He declined to say whether the two individuals with Gotti had been identified by police, or whether they stayed on scene.

It was also unclear if police street surveillance cameras captured any of the episode. One camera is visible from the scene, about a half block away, across State Street, on the near corner at Elm Street.

Rik Gee, who lives across State Street from where Gotti died, said he remembered Gotti used to walk around the neighborhood, but recently got his bike. He said Gotti never caused anyone any problems.

At the scene late Friday afternoon were friends of Gotti, gathering to place flowers and light votive candles in his memory.

Heather McGough said she had known Gotti for 14 years, and he was a good friend of the family.

He even frequently stayed with her — she let him sleep in her State Street basement, several blocks up from where he died.

“He was a good guy, a very, very good guy,” McGough said. “He helped anybody.”

He would ride his bike around the neighborhood, doing odd jobs for people, often in exchange for a few dollars or a meal.

She said she last saw Gotti only a few minutes before he was killed. She saw him bike down State Street. When someone told her later what had happened, she said she couldn’t believe it.

“I was crying, I was crying,” McGough said at the scene Friday. “It’s so sad. My heart was so hurt.”

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