BY REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — Rosendale Elementary and Iroquois Middle schools were placed on lockout June 17 after Niskayuna police got a report of three people with what appeared to be a gun in River Road Park.
Niskayuna police Lt. Michael Stevens said the initial report was made by a woman who had a distant vantage point and could not offer much description, though she claimed to see three teenage boys with what she thought was a rifle.
Stevens said all available officers were dispatched as soon as the report was made to search the park, where trails lead directly to the two schools. At first, the officers found nothing and gave the schools permission to dismiss students.
Stevens said the department later received a phone call from a parent who had solved the mystery. “A parent got the email and confronted his kid, and his son admitted it was him with some buddies, and that it was a BB gun,” Stevens said last week, after the incident. “That’s all being investigated at this point.”
No charges have been filed, and none are likely to be, he said this week. It’s not illegal to possess a BB gun in town, just to shoot it. And there’s no proof it was ever fired.
Also, police were able to identify only one of the boys involved, Stevens said.
The initial call, just after 3 p.m., coincided with the end of the school day, and few students were affected, according to the district.
“At Iroquois, there were about 10 students in the building,” said Matt Leon, the Niskayuna Central School District’s communication specialist.
At Rosendale, students had already been dismissed for the day, but a Kids Time after-school program run by the Jewish Community Center was still in operation.
The incident’s timing, closely aligned with dismissal, interrupted the district’s usual protocol for notifying families about emergencies. Leon said the district does have a phone-based alert system in place, but it was not used in this case because it did not affect the timing of dismissal.
“Activating the emergency phone system is typically reserved for brief, schoolwide messages that require a change in routine,” such as an early closure due to snow, he said. In this case, children left school as planned, so the district determined a call would be unnecessary.
“Police had advised that parents could pick up students on their usual schedule,” he explained.
Had the incident happened earlier, students would have been given a letter to take home informing parents about the situation. However, because of the small number of students remaining in school, “it was possible to have personal conversations with parents,” Leon said.
An email alert from the school district was sent to families using an opt-in system. Facebook and the district website also were used to spread the information.
Regardless of how they hear the news, parents of Rosendale and Iroquois students will be happy to know their children were never in danger.
“We are confident that the schools are not in danger,” Stevens said, adding that cans would have been the teenagers’ target.