Schodack police investigate arson, hate crime

May 15, 2017 11:48 PM

“Upset, especially when I found out it was a hate crime,” said Schodack resident, Russell Lussier.

Burned rubble is all that's left of a garage at a home on Cold Spring Avenue in Schodack.

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“When first responders arrived they saw on the front of the garage that someone had spray painted a swastika and a racial epithet on the front of the garage,” said Schodack Police Chief Joseph Belardo.

One neighbor described seeing the N word painted on the garage at the time.

An African American couple lives in the home with their five children.

School bus driver Russell Lussier lives around the corner and said he used to take several of the couple’s children to school.

“They're a great family,” Lussier said.”The dad and mom are very friendly. The kids were great.”

“They're such a nice family,” said Laurie Salzer who lives in the neighborhood with her husband Adam. “I mean in this neighborhood everyone gets along really well so we really have no clue who would have done something like that.”

Schodack Police arrived to the home shortly before midnight Sunday after receiving reports of a fire.

Five departments from Nassau, East Schodack, South Schodack, Schodack Valley, and North Chatham along with the Rensselaer County Sheriff's Office and New York State Police also responded to the incident, which police say they're investigating as both arson and a hate crime.

They're asking for the public's help.

“So we want people if they have any information to contact us,” Belardo said.

Flames from the garage also damaged parts of the front and side of the home on the property.

The family who lives in the home said they are troubled that someone would do something like this but they are also glad no one was hurt.

Their chickens and goats in the front yard were also unharmed.

“...makes me a little angry that someone would do something like this,” Belardo said. “We're the kind of community that we care about our neighbors.”

Laurie Salzer’s husband, Adam, said hate crimes don't usually happen around in their community.

“Everybody runs around and helps each other,” Adam Salzer said. “Can't imagine how or why something like this happened.”

“ I mean they got 5 children. I mean that's just ridiculous,” Lussier said.


Nia Hamm

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