Weapon arrest ends lockdown at Saugerties school

Published: Friday, June 18, 2010

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By Freeman staff

SAUGERTIES — Reports of a young man carrying a gun near Grant D. Morse Elementary School led to an hour-and-a-half lockdown of the buildingFriday morning. The lockdown was lifted after the suspect was arrested.

Town of Saugerties police said they received a report of an armed man near the school, which is at 70 Harry Wells Road, about 8:10 a.m. That prompted the lockdown, which began at 8:45 a.m. as a "precautionary measure," said Saugerties school district Superintendent Seth Turner.

At 10:19 a.m., police arrested 18-year-old Joshua J. Leo of Kerhonkson at a home on Blue Mountain Road in Saugerties, less than a mile from the school, according to Detective Kenneth Swart, and the lockdown was called off.

Leo was charged with illegal possession of a weapon and menacing, both misdemeanors, police said.

Swart said Leo was, at the time of the arrest, in possession of a realistic-looking pellet pistol, a kind of BB gun that resembles a semi-automatic handgun.

Leo was taken into custody without incident and was arraigned in Saugerties Town Court, police said. He was sent to the Ulster County Jail in lieu of $4,000 bail.

Turner said police established a command post near the school during the lockdown and that the students and staff never were in danger.

The superintendent praised police for "putting the safety of students and staff first."

Turner said classes continued as usual during the lockdown, but that — because no one was allowed to enter or leave the building — a fourth-grade band and chorus concert scheduled for Friday morning had to be rescheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Assisting town police were the Ulster County Sheriff's Office, the state police Emergency Response Team and aviation unit and the Ulster County Emergency Response Team.

Staff writers Kyle Wind and Paula Ann Mitchell contributed to this report.