MASSENA - A man who reportedly fired a shotgun twice in the village this morning was found deceased in what police are calling an apparent suicide.
At 8:13 a.m., village police received a phone call from 556 1/2 S. Main St. that Derek J. Ober, 19, of 7 Amherst Road, Massena, had fired a shotgun twice and was threatening to kill himself.
While attempting to locate Ober, police received two subsequent phone calls that he was spotted crossing the Raquette River in a canoe, was still in possession of a weapon and was walking toward Amherst Road.
Police responded to the vicinity of Ober's residence at 7 Amherst Road and spotted him running across the lawn and into the residence's front door.
Within seconds, a firearm discharge was heard, according to village police.
Police found Ober dead in a shed behind the house from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Village police chief Timmy J. Currier immediately ordered the scene secured and requested the New York State Police to take over and conduct an independent investigation. The state police's Bureau of Criminal Investigation was on the scene by late Wednesday morning.
"There were no police weapons discharged," Mr. Currier said.
"This was an active shooting incident and my staff was responding in a manner with weapons drawn. Because of this, to eliminate any doubt as to the cause of death, it is important that an independent investigation be conducted," he said. "I know my officers responded properly, however it is vital that our community hear that from an independent voice."
Ober had been arrested by village police several hours earlier at 12:19 a.m. Wednesday for reportedly stealing two bottles of liquor from Romeo's Liquor Store on South Main Street. Police processed him and released him on an appearance ticket, Mr. Currier said.
Some residents near Nightengale Elementary School had been evacuated during Wednesday morning's incident.
Both West Hatfield Street and Amherst Road were closed during the incident. Both have since reopened. Crime tape had surrounded 7 Amherst.
Massena Central School Superintendent Roger B. Clough II said he was notified at approximately 9 a.m. that a gunman was in the vicinity of Nightengale Elementary School. Ober's residence is only a few blocks away from the school.
"I immediately notified administrators at Nightengale, J.W. Leary Junior High and the high school that we would go into a lockout mode - no one can come in and no one can go out," Mr. Clough said.
The Central Administration Building, which is located on the high school and Nightengale Elementary campus, was also put in a lockdown mode, he said.
Mr. Clough said he kept in communication with administrators at the schools, and the district also fielded phone calls from concerned parents.
Mr. Currier notified Mr. Clough at 9:22 that the "situation was concluded" and the lockdown was lifted at the schools, he said.
The superintendent said lockdowns are part of their emergency plan which is practiced, but which they hope to never have to use.
"You think of the safety of all the children in the district and the faculty and make sure everything is locked," including not just entrance doors, but also windows, delivery doors and garage doors, he said. "It's a very scary situation, especially when you have children in those three buildings."
Shortly before noon, Pam J. DeLosh drove her sport utility vehicle to the banks of the north side of the Raquette, behind the Veterans of Foreign Wars post, to recover her canoe used in the incident. Ms. DeLosh's niece spotted a man in a red-hooded sweatshirt stealing the canoe from the back deck of her Cook Street residence while the family was eating breakfast Wednesday morning. By the time Ms. Delosh ran outside, the canoe was already on the opposite side of the river.
"I just ran, looked at the deck, and told my husband to call the cops," Ms. DeLosh said. "Why take the canoe across the river? Then we heard what was going on."