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Rutland County Sheriff deputy shot by police in Saratoga Springs placed on unpaid leave amid ongoing gunfight probe

A police officer crouches in doorway of a store.
Screenshot
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City of Saratoga Springs
A part-time deputy in the Rutland County Sheriff's Office, Vito Caselnova, was shot Sunday by Saratoga Springs police after allegedly shooting another man outside a bar following an altercation.

A Rutland County Sheriff’s deputy shot by police in Saratoga Springs, New York following an alleged gunfight has been placed on unpaid leave pending a criminal investigation into the incident. Law enforcement officials say the deputy, Vito Caselnova, allegedly shot another man in front of a bar and didn't drop his gun when police arrived at the scene.

Caselnova is hospitalized in stable condition. A woman who was with the deputy was also grazed by a bullet during the incident. She’s been released from the hospital, city officials say. The man who Caselnova allegedly shot is also hospitalized in stable condition.

Caselnova, who has worked for the sheriff’s office part-time since 2019, was not carrying a department-issued gun at the time of the incident, said Rutland County Sheriff David Fox.

“I did meet with him yesterday — he was stable and was able to, you know, correspond with people,” Fox said in an interview Monday. “So he's actually in pretty good shape.”

"I did meet with [Caselnova] yesterday — he was stable and was able to, you know, correspond with people."
Rutland County Sheriff David Fox

The Rutland County Sheriff’s Department will conduct a review of the incident to see if the Caselnova violated any internal policies, though Fox said they could adjust their review depending on pending criminal investigation in New York.

Vermont State Police are not currently involved in the investigation, according to a VSP spokesperson.

According to Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino, the incident started around 3 a.m. on Sunday when the Caselnova got into an argument with a group of men outside a bar. Three men allegedly slammed him into the hood of a car, and then Caselnova drew his gun, prompting one of the other men to also draw a gun. The two men fired at each other, and Caselnova shot one of the men, Montagnino said.

Police patrolling nearby heard the gunshots and ran to the scene. When the officers arrived, they shouted at Caselnova multiple times to drop his gun, according to body camera footage released by the city.

“Our officer directed him, by my count from the recording, eight separate times to drop the gun,” Montagnino said in an interview Monday. “The deputy failed to do so, and our officers fired a number of shots — a total of 11 shots were fired.”

"Our officer directed him, by my count from the recording, eight separate times to drop the gun. The deputy failed to do so, and our officers fired a number of shots — a total of 11 shots were fired."
James Montagnino, Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Public Safety

Caselnova told police that he was a law enforcement officer when they were providing first-aid after the shooting, Montagnino said.

A woman who was with Caselnova also appears to have been shot by police during the incident. Video of the incident shows the woman falling to the ground and screaming when police start shooting, though Montagnino says they’re still investigating if the woman was shot by police.

Saratoga Springs police officers haven’t fired their guns on duty in 26 years, according to Montagnino.

“The officers acted exactly as they're trained to act, and they responded in a measured way to the situation,” Montagnino said.

The three Saratoga Springs police officers who fired their weapons are on paid leave while the department and New York State Police conduct an investigation into the incident. Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen will determine whether to file criminal charges related to the shooting. Heggen did not respond to a request for comment.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Liam Elder-Connors @lseconnors.

Liam is a reporter based in Burlington and covers a variety of issues, including courts, law enforcement and housing.
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