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Two teens arrested following Colton-Pierrepont rifle scare


COLTON — Armed with a rifle, Sawyer M. Pignona headed to the Colton-Pierrepont Central School parking lot Monday afternoon “to scope it out for a fight,” state police said.

Once there, police said, the Hannawa Falls teenager brandished the weapon from a car window, causing a panic that sent the school into lockdown and landing himself behind bars.

Troopers charged Mr. Pignona, 16, with a felony count of criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds, state police Investigator Christopher M. Nye said. A friend who allegedly drove Mr. Pignona to the school, Connor I. Warden, 17, Potsdam, also was charged with criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds.

Police said they are aware of a possible Facebook feud involving students from Colton-Pierrepont and other districts, and are looking into the matter.

“I know there was a spat,” Mr. Nye said, adding that Mr. Pignona, a Potsdam Central School student, may have “taken it to the next level.”

The teens were arrested separately Monday, and both were arraigned in Colton Town Court. Mr. Pignona was sent to St. Lawrence County jail, Canton, in lieu of $10,000 bail or $20,000 bond. Mr. Warden was released on $5,000 bail, Mr. Nye said.

Mr. Warden told state police that he drove the armed Mr. Pignona to Colton-Pierrepont about 3:50 p.m. Monday, according to court documents.

“We left Sawyer’s house and he told me that we were going to a parking lot to scope it out for a fight,” Mr. Warden said in a police deposition. “Before we left Sawyer’s house he grabbed a long gun from his house and two red bandannas,” Mr. Warden said. “Sawyer told me where to go and we ended up at Colton school.”

There, Mr. Warden said, they pulled into a back lot and “observed three kids in the back of the school.” Mr. Pignona opened the passenger-side window and stuck the gun out, Mr. Warden told police, although he said he was not sure whether Mr. Pignona actually aimed it at the youths. Mr. Warden said Mr. Pignona told him that the gun was not loaded.

A teacher, James A. Nee, told police in his deposition that he was coaching lacrosse when he saw a vehicle approaching about 4 p.m. The vehicle turned and backed away, but Mr. Nee “noticed that the passenger rolled his window down and thrust out what appeared to be a rifle.”

All students were then brought into the building and all doors were locked, Colton-Pierrepont Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash wrote in a statement posted on the district’s Facebook page and website. “Once the police arrived to secure the premises, parents were called to pick up students and after-school activities were cancelled.”

Mr. Warden told police that he and Mr. Pignona then “went back to Sawyer’s house and hung out for a while.”

“On the way back, I asked Sawyer why he pointed the gun out the window, and he told me that it does not matter,” Mr. Warden said.

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