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Grand Jury: Deputy Justified In Using Deadly Force

OSWEGO, NY – A burden that police officers carry with them every day is whether they will be called on to do their duty and use deadly physical force against another human being. Many of them go their entire careers without having to make that life-changing decision.

On Friday, May 8, 2015, Deputy Mark Walton was faced with that difficult decision when a despondent subject pointed a loaded shotgun at him.

Sheriff Reuel Todd answers a question at Friday's press conference. Looking on are Major Francis S. Coots, Troop D Commander, New York State Police, and Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes.

Sheriff Reuel Todd answers a question at Friday’s press conference. Looking on are Major Francis S. Coots, Troop D Commander, New York State Police, and Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes.

The deputy made the decision to use deadly force to protect himself and the other police officers on the scene.

Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes and Oswego County Sheriff Reuel A. Todd requested that the New York State Police investigate the matter.

They held a joint press conference Friday to report the findings of the investigation and the Grand Jury’s report on it.

“First and foremost, on behalf of myself and all the members of law enforcement, I want to express our condolences to the family of David Schwalm. It is hard to lose a family member under any circumstance and it’s particularly difficult under these circumstances,” Oakes said at the start of Friday’s press conference announcing the findings of an Oswego County Grand Jury regarding the incident. “On behalf of our agency, we offer our condolences to the family and wish them the best as they grieve and try to recover from this loss.”

The DA went on to thank the State Police for working with the sheriff’s department and his office “to come in an investigate this matter so that we can make sure that the case was investigated fairly and fully by an outside agency so that the public, and most importantly Mr. Schwalm’s family could have full faith and confidence in the outcome of the investigation.”

On May 28, the state police investigation was reviewed by an Oswego County Grand Jury who filed its report in Oswego County Court Friday morning prior to the news conference. It indicated that “no criminal charges apply in this case,” Oakes said. That ends his office’s involvement in the matter, he added.

The DA said that he met privately with Schwalm’s family earlier this week to discuss the results of the investigation.

The family is still grieving. Oakes asked that the media and public respect their privacy.

Asked to elaborate on the conversation, the DA said, “I had a private conversation with his sons because I wanted to share the results of the investigation, give them a chance to absorb it. I don’t think it would be proper for me to talk about that conversation out of respect to them. I don’t want to speak on their behalf. It was private.”

“Taking a life is the most difficult decision any police officer can make throughout their career,” said Major Francis S. Coots, Troop D Commander, New York State Police. “The Oswego County Sheriff’s deputy who had to do this, it will probably affect him for the remainder of his life. Our condolences go out to the family of Mr. Schwalm.”

He described what happened on May 8 and the ensuing criminal investigation conducted by the State Police.

The situation began at approximately 11 a.m. that date when a despondent male subject called the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office and expressed the desire to end his life.

One of the methods the man spoke about would cause potential harm to others.

He indicated that he had a weapon; he didn’t say what type of weapon, just that he had a weapon. He also intimated to that investigator that he wanted to die.

Although the man wouldn’t give his name, the alert medical examiner’s investigator kept the subject on the phone for an extended period of time and he ultimately was able to learn the subject’s first name as well as his telephone number. The information was then forwarded to the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office.

That number was traced back to David Schwalm, 58, of 168 Auringer Road in Constantia.

The sheriff’s office checked its database, as is customary in these matters, and found that the department had dealt with Schwalm in 2007 on a similar incident which involved a firearm.

For that reason, three sheriff deputies and two investigators were sent to the scene in an attempt to keep Schwalm from harming himself or from acts that could harm others.

Upon arrival at the residence, the uniformed deputies established a perimeter around the residence to ensure the safety of others, while the investigators attempt to open a dialogue with Schwalm over the telephone.

There were two separate telephone calls made by the sheriff’s department investigator; both times, Schwalm terminated those calls. He refused any further contact.

Shortly after terminating the last telephone call, Schwalm exited the rear of the residence, unbeknownst to law enforcement. He was carrying what appeared to be a garbage bag in one hand and a shovel in the other and “an object yet to be determined.”

Deputy Walton ordered the subject to show his hands and when the man dropped what he was carrying, he leveled a long gun (shotgun), manipulating the action while raising the weapon at the deputy. The major noted that he couldn’t say if Schwalm was “looking down the barrel” only that the weapon was being pointed at the deputy.

After the deputy’s commands to drop the gun were ignored, the deputy discharged five rounds from his agency-issued .223 caliber patrol rifle, striking the subject three times from a distance of about 25 feet, “immediately terminating the threat.

The subject was deceased at the scene.

New York State Police members were sent to the scene to investigate the matter.

The Sheriff’s Office was completely cooperative in the following investigation, Major Coots, continued.

NYSP Bureau of Criminal Investigation personnel interviewed the sheriff’s department members who had been on the scene as well as others thought to have pertinent information.

What was learned during those interviews was compared to what Forensic Investigation Unit personnel found when processing the scene and when they attended the autopsy at the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office.

All information uncovered was consistent and indicated that the use of force was necessary and justified under New York State Penal Law.

“All of our facts were presented to Mr. Oakes so he could make that presentation to the Grand Jury,” Major Coots said.

The major was asked if he thought this was a “suicide.”

“My opinion is really not important. It’s what the facts say. The facts say that potential deadly force was being used against Deputy Walton. Deputy Walton feared for his life and the other deputies there. He took the appropriate and justifiable action,” he responded.

Sheriff Todd thanked the State Police for doing the investigation.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of our deputy,” he said. “Some of us have had guns pointed at us, but never had to use (our weapons). It’s tragic, it’s hard on everyone. The investigation shows we did nothing wrong. We have nothing to hide.”

Responding to ‘why did the investigation take so long?’ the sheriff replied, they didn’t want things “plastered all over the press until we had all of the facts and the families were able to absorb the information – there are two families involved here. Our department and their family. There was no threat to the community. It was my choice and I stand by that.”

“I’ve been here going on 42 years and we’ve never had (a situation where a deputy shot anyone). We’ve had people shot at,” he said.

The deputy will return to active duty when he and the sheriff feel he is ready.

“Every conversation I’ve had with him, including this morning to let him know what the findings were, he’s doing very well,” the sheriff said. “He will be returning to duty.”

Service Restored – City of Oswego Water Outage Ends

City of Oswego Water Restored
The water supply to the City of Oswego has been restored as of 3:30 p.m. today (May 29).
National Grid was able to identify the power issue that caused an outage to the City of Oswego water treatment facility, as well as parts of SUNY Oswego and the NRG steam station.
Oswego city officials were notified of the water outage at about 1:30 p.m., which affected the water infastructure in most parts of the City of Oswego.
The Oswego Fire Department activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and secured mutual aid water tankers from the Palermo and Granby volunteer fire departments.
Oswego’s fire engines carry 1,000 gallons of water, and these tankers from the mutual aid companies were on hand to augment the available water supply in case of a fire.
The 911 center issued a hypertext message to all city of Oswego residents to assist in the communications process.
Officials have confirmed that the water supply is safe, and back to normal operations.
No injuries or major incidents were reported.
Special thanks to the Palermo VFD, Granby VFD, the Oswego County Fire Coordinator’s Office, Menter Ambulance, National Grid, and all of the City of Oswego Departments that assisted during the outage.
The City of Oswego is currently experiencing a water outage due to a power failure at the water treatment plant.
Residents are encouraged to conserve water until further notice.
National Grid is working to correct the issue at this time.
This water outage affects residential supply, as well as fire hydrants.
Although we believe the problem will be corrected soon, emergency crews are preparing to get water from other sources outside the city.
We will have another update when more information is available.

BREAKING NEWS: No Charges To Be Filed Against Deputy In Auringer Road Shooting

OSWEGO, NY – At a joint press conference moments ago, the New York State Police, Oswego County Sheriff’s Office and the Oswego County District Attorney’s Office announced that there would be no charges filed against the deputy who fatally shot a man on May 8 at 168 Auringer Road in the town of Constantia.

An Oswego County Grand Jury just recently presented its decision to Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes.

On May 8, sheriff’s deputies responded to 168 Auringer Road in the town of Constantia to check the welfare of David Schwalm. He had called authorities and reportedly indicated he was going to harm someone or himself.

The request was received from a third party.

During the investigation Schwalm reportedly pointed a loaded shotgun at Deputy Mark Walton and refused commands to drop the weapon.

Deputy Walton fired his agency issued weapon five times, striking Schwalm three times. Schwalm died as a result of his injuries.

The incident was independently investigated by the New York State Police

Check back later for more details

Methamphetamine Lab Investigation Results In 2 Arrests

OSWEGO, NY – Two individuals have been arrested and charged as a result of the Methamphetamine Lab investigation originally reported on May 23.

Jeffrey P. Bame Jr

Jeffrey P. Bame Jr

Jeffrey P. Bame Jr.,  200 W. First St. Apt. 5, Oswego, and Briana L. Chorney, 200 W. First St. Apt. 5 Oswego, were both charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th (A Misdemeanor) and Unlawful Manufacture Methamphetamine 3rd (D Felony).

Both individuals were arraigned in Oswego City Court on May 26 and remanded to the Oswego County Correctional Facility on $2,500 cash bail / $5,000 bond.

They have a return court date of June 2 at 9:30 a.m.


Briana L. Chorney

Briana L. Chorney

On Saturday May 23, 2015, at approximately 8:30 a.m. the Oswego City Police Departments Patrol Division responded to a second floor apartment at 200 W. First St. in the city of Oswego for a check the welfare complaint.

Upon investigation the responding officers found indications of a possible methamphetamine lab within the apartment.

The scene was secured and two occupants of the apartment were treated by the Oswego City Fire Department for an unknown medical condition.

The sidewalk in front of 200 W. First St. was shut down and the New York State Police Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team (CCSERT) was requested, and responded, to the scene.

A one-pot methamphetamine lab was seized. The investigation is continuing and arrests are possible in the future.

As of 12:30 p.m. (May 23) all emergency units cleared the scene and the sidewalk was reopened.

The Oswego City Fire Department assisted at the scene.

Weather Notebook For May 29, 2015

Weather Notebook For May 29, 2015

According to Fulton’s weather observer, the area received 0.06-inch of precipitation on May 28.

The monthly total is 3.47 inches.

The total for the year is 16.24 inches.

Partly cloudy and warm with a shower possible tonight. Low near 60.

Warm and more humid with showers and thunderstorms, heavy at times, possible on Saturday. High 80 to 85.

Sunny and warm but not very humid today. High near 80.

Oswego Health New Vision Students Tackle Issue of Peer Use of Tobacco Products

OSWEGO, NY – Oswego Hospital’s New Vision students have spent much of the year studying the tobacco habits of their peers and after collaborating with local agencies have developed strategies that they hope will lead to a lower rate of smoking in Oswego County.

Hannibal New Vision students Rachel Herrmann and Olivia Cacchione show off a stress ball and bracelet that they will hand out to Hannibal students as a way to reduce student smoking.

Hannibal New Vision students Rachel Herrmann and Olivia Cacchione show off a stress ball and bracelet that they will hand out to Hannibal students as a way to reduce student smoking.

The students are high school seniors enrolled in the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation’s Allied Health New Vision Program.

Throughout the school year they have been taking part in rotations at various Oswego Hospital departments two days a week, which expose them to healthcare careers. Each year the class takes on a major project and this year the students reviewed the Oswego County Community Health Assessment, which includes facts on the health status of residents, including smoking.

According to the document, 32 percent of county residents smoke, compared to 18 percent statewide.

The morning and afternoon New Vision participants worked together to create a ten-question survey that they distributed to students in eight county school districts.

After reviewing the nearly 2,000 completed surveys, the students were surprised to learn that many students begin using tobacco products at age 14.

“I didn’t know that people started smoking at such a young age,” said Karli Bricker, a student from Fulton.

The surveys further indicated that most students started smoking out of curiosity and due to stress.

Using their data, each class divided into groups to develop ideas on how best to reduce the use of tobacco products among their peers.

Those projects were then presented to a project selection panel that included Oswego Health’s Community Education Nurse Susan Callaway, Oswego County’s Director of Public Health Jiancheng Huang and Julie Reid, a registered nurse at Northern Oswego County Health Services Inc.

The panel selected the morning’s class project that will introduce the use of stress relievers in the Hannibal Middle School and High School.

Through a grant from the Rural Health Network of Oswego County, the students were able to purchase stress balls and bracelets that carry the slogan, take down tobacco.

Olivia Cacchione, a Hannibal student has been working with the Hannibal School Principal Stephen Dunn to coordinate a school assembly and distribution of the stress balls and bracelets.

“He has been really helpful throughout the project, as he feels it is very important,” Cacchione said.

Working alongside Cacchione has been Rachel Herrmann, who developed the budget for the project.

Meanwhile, for the afternoon class, the panel chose a project that will offer an afternoon of presentations at the Altmar-Parish-Williamstown Middle School.

As part of the presentations, students will be asked to breathe through straws to simulate a reduced lung capacity as a result of smoking, while a second station will represent the weight and size of an average oxygen tank used by those who have emphysema.

Not only have the students worked with school district officials, they have also shared their projects with members of the Oswego County Legislature’s health committee, who the students said were impressed with their initiatives.

“It was exciting to know that they believed in our projects,” said Nichole Fitzgerald, of Phoenix.

Overseeing the projects has been New Vision Instructor Kim Wright.

“I am so proud of these students,” she said. “They have worked on these projects the entire year and have gone above and beyond. It’s also nice to know that these future healthcare workers are getting involved in an important community issue.”

Members of the public can learn more about the student projects on June 2 and 4 from 9 to 11 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m. both days in three locations: the Oswego Hospital lobby, the south entrance to the Health Service Center and the lobby of the Fulton Medical Center.

Hannibal New Vision students Rachel Herrmann and Olivia Cacchione show off a stress ball and bracelet that they will hand out to Hannibal students as a way to reduce student smoking.

Weather Notebook For May 28, 2015

Weather Notebook For May 28, 2015

According to Fulton’s weather observer, the area received 0.39-inch of precipitation on May 27.

The monthly total is 3.41 inches.

The total for the year is 16.18 inches.

Clearing skies and more comfortable tonight. Low near 50.

Mostly sunny and warm on Friday. High 80 to 85.

Cloudy with a few early showers, then increasing sunshine and decreasing humidity today. High near 75.

College Students Present Workshops at OHS

OSWEGO, NY – Recently, students from SUNY Oswego’s WTOP10 visited Oswego High School and WBUC to conduct two mini workshops.

Some SUNY Oswego broadcasting students go over notes with their OHS counterparts.

Some SUNY Oswego broadcasting students go over notes with their OHS counterparts.

The goal of the visit was to assist local high school students in their TV production classes and broadcasts, according to Jamie Sykut, Oswego High School technology teacher.

SUNY Oswego students Justin Dobrow, Christy Somers, Olivia Ugino, Ian Dembling, Dan Eye, Aubrey Mulvey, James Walters, Mae Roberts, Catherine Danielewicz, and Kara Vormwald visited Sykut and Kim Nelson’s TV production classes providing tips and pointers regarding furthering their broadcasting education.

The day was about more than TV production.

A group of SUNY Oswego students present a workshop for Oswego High School TV students.

A group of SUNY Oswego students present a workshop for Oswego High School TV students.

The SUNY Oswego broadcasting majors discussed the importance of public speaking, organization and communication regardless of career path.

Current WTOP GM, Somer, and incoming GM, Dobrow, have been working with Sykut and Nelson throughout this school year.

Earlier this year, WTOP donated its old studio set to Oswego High School for WBUC students to use.

Both parties are excited to continue and grow the collaboration next year, Sykut said.

Weather Notebook For May 27, 2015

Weather Notebook For May 27, 2015

Spray fountain in Oswego's West Park

Spray fountain in Oswego’s West Park

According to Fulton’s weather observer, the area received 0.02-inch of precipitation on May 26.

The monthly total is 3.02 inches.

The total for the year is 15.79 inches.

Cloudy and warm with a chance of showers tonight. Low near 65.

Cooler and less humid with a chance of showers early on Thursday. High around 75.

Warm and humid with scattered thunderstorms possible today. High 80 to 85.

William ‘Billy’ Barlow Declares Candidacy For Oswego Mayor

OSWEGO, NY – William “Billy” Barlow officially declared his candidacy for mayor of Oswego Tuesday, and had a couple heavy hitters pledge their support.

William “Billy” Barlow announces his candidacy for Oswego mayor

William “Billy” Barlow announces his candidacy for Oswego mayor

Michael Backus, chair of the Oswego County Republican Party, introduced Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Will Barclay to the large crowd gathered in Montcalm Park in the First Ward.

“I’m thrilled to be here today to support Billy. He may be a fresh face, but he’s certainly not a newcomer. His family has lived here in this community for over four decades.” Ritchie said. “He’s invested in Oswego, opening his own business.”

The job of mayor is about rolling up your sleeves, working hard and coming up with solutions to take the city of Oswego forward, she added.

“I think the city of Oswego is at a crossroads. We have to move forward with young and energetic leadership,” Barclay said. “Billy’s young and energetic and I think he has a great vision for the city of Oswego.”

Assemblyman Will Barclay throws his support behind Billy Barlow

Assemblyman Will Barclay throws his support behind Billy Barlow

Barlow is a strong advocate for protecting the taxpayers of Oswego, he added.

“He’s young, energetic and he’s willing to go out and make the tough decisions,” Backus said in introducing the candidate. “He’s going to lead here in the city. I’m so thrilled to have him … ladies and gentlemen, our candidate for mayor, Billy Barlow!”

“This event here tonight isn’t about me. It’s about us as a community,” Barlow said. “It’s about the future of our community and where we want to take our city.”

Voters have an opportunity for change, “the ability to go in in November and start fresh on Jan. 1,” he said. “Now is the time to do something different, something drastic. It’s time to really, really shake up City Hall and finally allow our city to reach its true potential, capitalizing on the positives and aggressively addressing the negatives.”

Everyone knows the city is facing problems, he said, adding that some problems have “been around the better part of 20 years or so.”

“That’s exactly the reason we have to storm City Hall this year with fresh energy, real ambition, strong and bold leadership and that is exactly why I am here tonight to announce my candidacy for city of Oswego mayor!”

He chose Montcalm Park as the place to make his announcement because it is “very symbolic” and reflects the crossroads the city faces, he explained.

Senator Patty Ritchie said she looks forward to working with Billy Barlow as the mayor of Oswego

Senator Patty Ritchie said she looks forward to working with Billy Barlow as the mayor of Oswego

“You tend to forget how nice Montcalm Park is until you’re here,” he said. “I think that kind of stands for our thoughts for our city.”

That is much the same as how people tend to forget how nice Oswego is and that it really does have potential, he explained.

“It’s for those reasons that we need to make the changes that we need to make this fall,” he said. “The changes we need to make go beyond Republican or Democrat. They’re basic changes that have to come from the executive branch of city government.

His campaign will cover several different topics including taxes, market rate housing, code enforcement and most of all what he calls, “customer service.”

“Before I ever took office, our residents had their taxes raised by 43% in one year,” he said. “They haven’t seen the return on that money.  Our residents deserve to have paved streets.  They deserve to have neighboring properties, rental or otherwise, held to proper standards.  They deserve to have clear streets in the winter. These are issues that involve management and leadership in the executive branch of city government.”

Barlow, who turns 25 in September, said his age, business experience, and time on the council has him prepared to lead in city government.

“You see the mayor of Ithaca elected at age 24, a congresswoman elected at 30 and plenty of other examples nationwide and its becoming a trend for younger folks to take initiative and get involved in government and the public is reacting favorably,“ he said.

Barlow explained how his age would be an asset for Oswego by pointing out that Oswego needs to hold on to our local high school and college graduates and in the mean time, retain its retirees and seniors.

“Like business, this is a competition. We are competing against other nearby municipalities and we need to set ourselves apart and make ourselves unique and attractive to young professionals and families all while keeping it affordable for our seniors on fixed incomes to stay here,” he said.

He continued on highlighting some other platforms like a “quality of life hotline,” making it easier for people to address problems within their neighborhood, beautification projects, lobbying for new business and outside investment and appropriately marketing and branding Oswego.

Born and raised in Oswego, Barlow is the fifth generation of his family to live in the Fifth Ward, which he currently represents.

Members of the crowd show their support for the young candidate

Members of the crowd show their support for the young candidate

He is an Arizona State University graduate and a local small business owner, co-owning Barlow’s Concessions, a family business spanning three generations.

Barlow also works as the Central New York Regional Director for the minority of the New York State Assembly and Leader Brian Kolb.

“I grew my business into Western New York and Arizona at a time when the economy was retracting,” he explained. “Its takes ambition and a special perspective to market the city, lobby for business, encourage people to invest and attract the working class family who will buy a house and contribute to the local economy.”

It will require a blend of small businesses, superb leaders in organized labor, SUNY Oswego, and capitalizing on our tourism assets to spur real economic development and create well paying jobs, he added.

Barlow said he looks forward to campaigning and meeting residents of the city to listen to their concerns and hear their ideas.

“I have a deep passion for this city and enjoy contributing to my hometown as best I can,” he said.

“I’ll say that Bill Barlow will win unequivocally, without reservation, and categorically because he is going to go door to door and get the people to know who he is,” said former long-time city councilor John Canale. “He’s fighting for tougher budgetary oversight, taking code enforcement duties away from Oswego Fire Department and a tax incentive for homeowners to perform improvements and a better winter parking policy. That is his program. And, I agree with it 100 percent.”

Barlow is one of Canale’s former students.

“So, a lot of what he knows came from me,” Canale quipped

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Grand Jury: Deputy Justified In Using Deadly Force

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