Schenectady County

Lawyer: Boy in Niskayuna standoff needs help

The attorney for the Niskayuna teen who allegedly threatened to shoot himself and others Monday told

The attorney for the Niskayuna teen who allegedly threatened to shoot himself and others Monday told a judge Wednesday that the boy needs psychological help.

James P. Catuccio, 16, held police at bay for more than seven hours at his home on Cunningham Court before surrendering.

Assistant Conflict Defender Bruce Trachtenberg told Niskayuna Town Justice Stephen F. Swinton Jr. that Catuccio had spoken with a social worker in the Schenectady County jail.

“She advised us that this child of 16 needs to be in a mental institution,” Trachtenberg said.

He asked Swinton to order a competency hearing. The judge replied that he isn’t sure if mental competency is at issue in this case.

“You can be severely mentally ill and still be competent,” he said.

During the incident, police said, Catuccio was suicidal and threatened to shoot officers and people on the street. He also placed a loaded firearm out an open window, according to court papers. No one was injured.

Catuccio held his mother in the home initially, police said, but Niskayuna and Schenectady officers began speaking with him by phone and got him to release his mother shortly after 6 p.m.

Swinton arraigned Catuccio on a felony charge of unlawful imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of menacing. He had previously been charged with two felony counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of first-degree reckless endangerment.

Swinton sent Catuccio back to jail, with no bail set on the felony counts but bail set on the misdemeanor charges at $200,000 cash or $500,000 bond.

Swinton said Catuccio has threatened to escape, and if he does, bail would be increased substantially. A preliminary hearing has been set for Tuesday at 4 p.m.

About 20 of Catuccio’s friends and family members were present, including his parents, who stood on the other side of Trachtenberg when their son was brought into the courtroom.

“We want James to know that Mom and Dad are both here for him,” Trachtenberg said.

Following the hearing, Trachtenberg said the family took issue with the unlawful imprisonment charge, saying his mother remained in the house voluntarily.

“At no time was she unlawfully imprisoned or did she feel menaced herself,” he said.

Catuccio had three or more firearms, according to court papers. When asked about the weapons, all Trachtenberg would acknowledge is that the residence had “heirlooms” that were lawfully possessed and in a secure location.

A neighbor who did not wish to give her name said Catuccio had been in trouble for things like playing loud music and skateboarding, but she didn’t have any issues with him. She said he is a genius with a college-level IQ but was feeling frustrated at school.

“He’s just confused. He’s lost right now. He’s above his peers. He gets teased about being very intelligent,” the neighbor said.

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