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Police: As many as 15 took part in assault

Teens indicted in Schenectady movie theater beating

Police: As many as 15 took part in assault

September 30, 2013
Updated 2:51 p.m.
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Police: As many as 15 took part in assault


Three teens were sentenced Friday for their roles in the attack of a Niskayuna man inside one of the theaters at Bow Tie Cinema in Schenectady.
Three teens were sentenced Friday for their roles in the attack of a Niskayuna man inside one of the theaters at Bow Tie Cinema in Schenectady.

— Three teens have been indicted on high-level assault counts in connection with an attack this summer inside the Bow Tie Cinema downtown, a prosecutor said Friday.

The attack took place at the conclusion of a late June 28 showing of “White House Down,” during which the teenagers had been disrupting the show, prosecutor William Sanderson said.

They eventually turned their attention to a man there with his daughters, Sanderson said. They assaulted him in the theater before they left, leaving him with a concussion, broken bones in a hand, tooth damage and torn-up skin on his knees.

One of the man’s daughters also got hit and knocked to the floor as she tried to come to her father’s aid, Sanderson said, and her phone was stolen.

Police responded quickly, Sanderson said, and arrested one of the youths nearby. The ensuing police investigation led them to the others. At least one other arrest in adult court is expected, Sanderson said.

The three teens were indicted on charges of first-degree gang assault and first-degree assault, both high-level felonies that carry possible sentences of as much as 25 years in prison.

Terrell Bell, 16, of 223 Duane Ave., Schenectady, and Jonas Jeannot, 18, of 1133 Country Club Drive, Niskayuna, were arraigned Friday and pleaded not guilty. The third teen, Dashawn Harrison, 16, of Duane Avenue, will be arraigned in the near future.

Two or three others have also been charged as juveniles, Sanderson said.

Contacted Friday, a police spokesman called the incident an isolated one in an area that is statistically the safest in the city. A representative of the theater echoed those remarks. Sanderson, too, called it isolated. It’s the only such incident he’s aware of, he said, and he personally sees movies there regularly, never with any problems.

“I suppose anywhere something like this could happen if the wrong groups of kids get together,” Sanderson said.

The incident happened at the 10 p.m. showing of the movie, Sanderson said. About 10 or 15 youths were in the group, both boys and girls. They made noise, some ran the aisles and some even banged on garbage cans.

Sanderson said he is not aware of anyone alerting cinema staff to the disruption, but the father eventually expressed his irritation by snapping his fingers as one of the youths passed in the aisle. Sanderson described the man as in his 40s and from Niskayuna.

“They got up and they decide they’re going to retaliate against him for this,” Sanderson said of the finger snap.

As the movie ended and the lights came up, they started to hit him as they left.

“Then he gets up to try to stop them and they just surround him and beat the daylights out of him,” Sanderson said.

The attack included kicks and punches, he said. The man’s concussion symptoms have lingered, increasing the seriousness of the charges to high-level felonies, he said.

As that went on, one of the man’s daughters tried to pull the teens off her father, asking them to stop. One of the attackers then turned and hit her, knocking her to the floor, Sanderson said. Also with the victim was a friend of the daughters.

At least eight of the youths were actively involved in the attack, Sanderson said. “It was over before I think anybody realized it was happening,” he said.

The youths then fled on foot, but police responded quickly. They detained Harrison near the scene and he was identified as an attacker.

Harrison was initially charged with second-degree robbery, along with misdemeanor assault, petty larceny and child endangerment counts. A grand jury, though, increased those to the first-degree assault and first-degree gang assault.

The rest were identified through witnesses, as well as the help of surveillance video from the theater and street cameras, Sanderson said.

Joe Masher, Bow Tie chief operating officer, said Friday the incident was an isolated one and that there have been no other problems at the theater. The staff, he said, has cooperated fully.

Police spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken noted the quick response and the arrest near the scene.

“The detectives did a fantastic job following up” and making later arrests, he said.

McCracken, referencing crime statistics, said the incident is not representative of the area. An officer is dedicated to walking or biking downtown weekdays, and there is a community officer assigned to the Stockade and downtown. Special events bring an added police presence.

 
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