Shooting may be linked to ‘drug debt’

A Gloversville police car sits in front of 40 Sixth Ave. — the scene of an early morning shooting. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

GLOVERSVILLE — A man was shot in the back early this morning at a Sixth Avenue residence — continued escalation of violent crime in the city in 2021 and an incident the mayor said may have been caused by a “drug debt.”

“A lot of the violence we’re experiencing here is related to drugs,” Mayor Vincent DeSantis said today.

This morning’s shooting follows incidents in the city in a half year that have included two stabbing homicides and a shooting at Naif’s. Scanner accounts almost daily report drug overdoses in the Gloversville area.

The Gloversville Police Department issued a news release indicating that at about 2:29 a.m., members of the Gloversville Police Department were dispatched to the Emergency Room at Nathan Littauer Hospital for a report of a male who had been shot.

Upon arrival to the emergency room, officers contacted the 46-year-old male victim. The release said he had suffered “at least” one gun shot wound to his back. The male victim was subsequently transferred to Albany Medical Center. His medical condition this morning was not known.

“He remains hospitalized,” Gloversville police Lt. Brad Schaffer said this morning.

He said there were no suspects in custody as of this morning.

Based on an interview with the male victim, police said it has been determined the shooting occurred at 40 Sixth Ave., Apt. 1.

Members of the Gloversville Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, and New York State Police responded to 40 Sixth Ave. Apt. 1, and several individuals have been detained.

The investigation into the shooting remains “very active,” police said.

DeSantis said police have a preliminary motive relating to the shooting incident in the Sixth Avenue-Helwig Street area.

“It was something about a drug debt,” the mayor said.

DeSantis said the city of Gloversville currently has a violent crime “problem,” and much of it has to do with drug activity. He said he attended a symposium Wednesday night at the North Main Street United Methodist Church in which thoughts were communicated about local violence. He said what’s going on in Gloversville – crime, drug transactions, domestic violence — are symptomatic of society as a whole.

“There’s a lot going on in the world,” DeSantis said.

But he echoed something that other authorities in the past decades have said in Fulton County — that many of the perpetrators are sometimes not “from here,” but rather from the Capital District and downstate and New York City.

“We really struggle with drugs being brought into the city from the outside,” said the former Gloversville City Court judge.

Nevertheless, DeSantis noted there is still an appetite for drugs in the Gloversville area, a situation dealers are happy to supply.

“If it weren’t for the demand for these drugs, they wouldn’t be brought in,” DeSantis said.

He said enforcement needs to bring the drug situation in the city under control, but efforts to reach people struggling with drug problems must be continued.

The mayor has often praised the police department’s Neighborhood Engagement Unit program, which this year is introducing officers ward-by-ward to the community. The community policing offers valuable services, Narcan training, door-to-door introductions, and free pizza as a way to get to better know and help those in distressed neighborhoods in the city.

Anyone with surveillance cameras in the area of Sixth Avenue and Helwig Street — or anyone with any information on today’s shooting — is asked to contact the Gloversville Police Department at (518) 773-4506. Information will be kept confidential.

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