ROTTERDAM -- The Rotterdam man who held police at bay for nearly eight hours Tuesday after firing a BB gun at a neighbor remained in jail Wednesday, facing three felony charges.
While the criminal justice system deals with Brian E. Beloncik Sr., his son said the underlying problem is a 40-year history of mental illness.
"He's bipolar, and he refuses to take medication for it," said Brian E. Beloncik Jr. "Ever since he was 17 years old, he's refused to take his medication."
The elder Beloncik, 56, who has lived in Rotterdam most of his life, on Tuesday allegedly shot next-door neighbor Robert Paturso with an air rifle after he was confronted about spray-painting vulgarities on the neighbor's property. The incident occurred on Fourth Avenue in the Carman neighborhood, not far from Interstate 890.
"I'm not by any means defending his actions," the son said. "He's going to have to suffer the consequences of his actions. I feel terrible that the neighbors are afraid of this guy, but there's nothing I can do."
Police were already at the neighbor's home at 8 a.m. Tuesday investigating the vandalism complaint when the shot was fired. Police quickly moved in, but Beloncik holed up in the house until about 4:30 p.m., when the Schenectady Police Department's Special Operations Squad fired tear gas into the house. Beloncik emerged, and he and a woman -- who was also in the home -- were taken to Ellis Hospital for treatment of respiratory problems related to the tear gas.
Rotterdam Police Lt. William Male said at the scene that police proceeded cautiously because they believed there were weapons in the home, and there were threatening signs on the property.
Overnight Tuesday, Rotterdam police filed three felony and four misdemeanor charges against Beloncik, who was arraigned in Rotterdam Town Court and sent to jail on $100,000 bail. He is due back in court Thursday. As of Wednesday, court records had no attorney listed for him.
The felony charges include first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and third-degree criminal mischief. Misdeamor charges include fifth-degree arson, second-degree menacing, second-degree reckless endangerment and making graffiti.
Court documents accuse Beloncik of starting a fire in an equipment trailer that was within 6 inches of an occupied dwelling; possessing a BB gun that he fired at the neighbor, hitting the neighbor in the torso; and spray painting obscene language on two of his neighbor's utility trailers.
Rotterdam police said Beloncik has been arrested in the past on charges including criminal contempt, criminal mischief, menacing and aggravated harassment.
On April 21, he was arrested by Guilderland police on charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery and criminal possession of a weapon. He was accused of stealing property from a residence on Western Avenue and of threatening the resident with a knife.
Beloncik Jr. believes his father should have remained in the Albany County Jail on those charges, but a former girlfriend paid the bail from a workers' compensation check, allowing him to be released.
"I know people who work in the corrections system are very overworked, so I'm not saying any of this is their fault," said the son, who grew up in Rotterdam but now lives in western Massachusetts. "There's not much you can do when someone refuses to take their medication."
He said he is one of Beloncik's two adult children, the other of whom also lives out of state. He said his father formerly did recreational vehicle maintenance, but he has been receiving workers' compensation since a fall from an RV's roof caused serious facial injuries that required numerous surgeries. He acknowledged that his father also "self-medicates" with illegal drugs.
"It seems like he's not OK to be around other people," the 35-year-old said. "He's had issues with neighbors. He gets in these manic states, and he thinks he's someone else. ... It's like he has delusions of grandeur. ... It's really hard to deal with."