BALLSTON SPA – The off-duty Vermont sheriff’s deputy who was shot multiple times on Nov. 20 after allegedly refusing to lower his firearm was indicted Tuesday on eight counts, including attempted murder.
He pleaded not guilty in Saratoga County Court to all eight counts against him.
Vito Caselnova, 25, of Glens Falls, was also indicted on one count each of first-degree assault, possession of a firearm in a sensitive location and two counts of possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device. He also pleaded not guilty to second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree menacing, both misdemeanors and second-degree harassment, a violation.
“What was unveiled today in the sealed indictment is the result of a long, extensive and thorough investigation into the incidents that occurred on Nov. 20,” Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen said following Tuesday’s court appearance.
At about 3 a.m. on Nov. 20 Saratoga Springs police officers responded to the corner of Broadway and Caroline Street to reports of a shooting.
Officials said that Caselnova was seen holding a leveled handgun after several patrol officers encountered him. He was told multiple times to disarm before officers opened fire, officials said.
Police said Caselnova suffered 10 bullet wounds, but survived. He appeared in court Tuesday alongside his attorneys.
Caselnova’s girlfriend, Cali Brown, was also shot in the arm during the incident and has filed a notice of claim against the city and Police Department alleging negligence and carelessness.
Alexander Colon of Utica, who was confirmed Tuesday to be the other person involved in the incident, was struck by a bullet fired by Caselnova and taken to the hospital, police have said.
The prosecutor was granted an order of protection for Colon for one year.
It remains unclear whether charges will be brought against Brown or Colon.
“This matter was a sealed matter which means that the grand jury’s actions are such that I can comment on what has been unsealed by the judge at this time and that’s the conclusion of what I can speak to at this point,” Heggen said.
Caselnova was taken into custody during court and sent to Saratoga County Jail on $50,000 cash bail. During court Caselnova’s attorney Greg Teresi indicated Caselnova had the funds to make bail.
If convicted on either the second-degree attempted murder or first-degree assault charges Caselnova could face up to 25 years in prison.
Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim on Tuesday said he’s happy charges have been brought.
“It’s about time,” Kim said. “Think about all the arrests that have been made for crimes not even as serious. It’s taken this long for the DA to get to this point but I’m glad she finally did. I hope justice is served.”
He said no one should have a weapon at 2 a.m. on Caroline Street.
Kim did not mince words regarding the release of the surveillance and body camera footage just 10 hours following the incident, again standing by his actions. Heggen called Kim’s and Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino’s actions “snap unprecedented judgments” when the two city officials didn’t understand any of the other evidence in the case and police were still collecting evidence.
“It’s hard for me to understand why a DA can’t, in New York state, can’t act and perform her job in a free society,” Kim said. “There’s this thing called the First Amendment which gives us all constitutional rights and I have an obligation to the citizens of Saratoga Springs. For her to say that she somehow can’t do her job in the context of me doing my job, I don’t understand why she can’t work in a free society. I’m disappointed she isn’t capable of doing her job when other elected officials have to meet their obligations, but I’m glad she finally got to this point.”
Montagnino could not be reached immediately for comment.
Just days after the release of the footage by Kim and Montagnino, Heggen obtained a gag order from Judge Diane Freestone barring city employees from speaking about the shooting. That order was dropped in late December and Heggen instead filed a state court proceeding against Kim and Montagnino seeking to further bar them from speaking on the matter.
The matter has not been decided yet.
“This unsealing today may or may not impact a decision,” Heggen said.
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