SARANAC LAKE – Saranac Lake Village Police Chief Darin Perrotte on Thursday identified the man who stabbed a person and was fatally shot by an SLPD officer on Wednesday as Joshua De’Miguel Kavota, 33, of Saranac Lake.
Perrotte also identified Aaron Sharlow as the SLPD officer who shot Kavota after Kavota stabbed a man on Bloomingdale Avenue, and SLPD officer Gabrielle Beebe as the officer Kavota killed. “accused” stabbed in the parking lot of Stewart’s Shops on Wednesday.
Sharlow and Beebe were both placed on administrative leave, Perrotte said, adding it was standard policy during an investigation. Perrotte handed control of the investigation to the New York State Police and the State Attorney General’s Office “to ensure transparency.”
Perrotte said police plan to release body camera footage of the incident in the “near future” and asked “patience” as the investigation continues. After news of the shooting broke on Wednesday, some people in the community and on social media began discussing the case in the larger context of the national debate over police use of force and race. . Kavota was black and the officers are white.
The identity of the first stabbed victim has not been released. Perrotte said state police have requested that his identity be withheld at this time. He was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries and was released on Wednesday, according to village police.
Michael Sikirica, a medical examiner at Glens Falls Hospital, performed an autopsy on Thursday and determined that Kavota’s cause of death was “Severe bilateral hemothorax, perforation of the right lung, heart and inferior vena cava due to a gunshot wound to the chest.”
Sharlow and Beebe responded to Stewart Stores around 8:30 a.m. for a stabbing report. They approached Kavota and asked him to return the knife, according to SLPD press releases.
“(He) then pulled out the knife, charging (Beebe), knocking her to the ground as she retreated”, reads a Thursday press release from SLPD.
Sharlow fired two bullets, hitting Kavota in the chest, according to Perrote. Officers and bystanders began helping Kavota, Perrotte said.
Kavota was transported to Adirondack Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Village Mayor Jimmy Williams released a statement about the shooting on Wednesday evening.
“It is with a heavy heart that I write this message to acknowledge the traumatic event that has rocked our tight-knit community today,” Williams wrote. “This tragic death, the extreme bravery of our local police and the incredible actions of our first responders will leave a mark on us all far beyond today.
“The investigation is ongoing, but we will provide you with more information as soon as we can”, He continued. “This is a very difficult day for our community. Please focus on taking care of each other at this time. It is paramount in our efforts to move forward together.
Last year, Sharlow attended a Crisis Response Team training run by the Institute for Police, Mental Health and Community Collaboration, which was designed to improve police interactions with people with mental illness. mental health, addictions or emotional crises.
The SLPD has a Pilot Counselor and Law Enforcement Partnership, which embeds a therapist into the department to assist with mental health and addiction appeals.
However, these therapists do not respond with the police to emergencies. They are only brought in when the police deem a scene to be safe.
Mark Palyswiat owns Casier Furniture on Bloomingdale’s Avenue. With large storefronts, he is able to see and hear much of what happens in his stretch of the street. He saw the initial fight that brought police to Bloomingdale Avenue on Wednesday.
“I was sitting here doing my job and suddenly I heard this scream – ‘Stay away from my fucking property! – Again and again,” Palyswiat told the Enterprise on Thursday.
He saw a man get out of a car in the parking lot at the corner of Broadway and Bloomingdale Avenue and yell at Kavota.
“They started chasing each other and swinging,” said Palyswiat. “Right across from the Chinese restaurant (number one) in the middle of the road where the double yellow line is.”
As they struggled on the ground, he said, the man in the car must have been stabbed. Palyswiat watched him get into his car and drive off. Palyswiat said he never saw the knife Kavota was holding and only learned the other man had been stabbed later. Perrotte confirmed on Thursday that the man had been stabbed in the street in front of Palyswiat’s shop.
Kavota started walking towards Stewart’s, Palyswiat said, and soon after saw a police car speeding down the street to the gas station, so he got out to look.
Less than 20 seconds after he stood there, Palyswiat said he saw an officer fire two shots at the man, who stood for several seconds before falling to the ground. He said he did not see the altercation itself, where other bystanders said Kavota “pushed” to the police with the knife. Palyswiat said officers were within meters of Kavota when he was shot.
Palyswiat said he saw the manager of Stewart’s Shops rush and press Kavota’s chest.
“She’s there pressing on his chest trying to keep it from bleeding.” said Palyswiat.
He said Sharlow started performing CPR as Beebe yelled at people to “Come back!”
During this time, he said people were going in and out of the parking lot and in and out of the store.
“When it happened, it was like a normal day,” said Palyswiat.
It was shocking, he said.
“I couldn’t even believe the gun had exploded” said Palyswiat.
Palyswiat said he had seen Kavota before – his store is right across from the apartment Kavota lived in. He said he saw Kavota act “odd,” but he had never seen him aggressive before.
Eric Sperger is a property manager for Nicastro & Cantwell, which said Kavota was one of its tenants at 12 Bloomingdale Ave. — an apartment building on the corner of Broadway and Bloomingdale Avenue down the street from Stewart — for about three weeks.
Sperger said Kavota was a client of Lakeside House, a social service organization that focuses on housing people with mental illness in the city. Lakeside House supported Kavota’s rent in the apartment and he lived there independently after moving from Lakeside House on River Street, Sperger said.
Sperger said Kavota would tell people he was homeless and ask for money. Sperger said he sometimes receives “aggressive” when people wouldn’t. He said he reported Kavota to Lakeside House last week for “aggressive behaviour” at Stewart’s, and that other tenants in the building had concerns.
Anna Squires lives near Kavota’s apartment. She said she called Lakeside House three times the morning of the fatal shooting because she saw him jump from his second-story balcony, and later found him lying on the floor in a hallway and mumbling.
She said he was acting stranger than ever.
Squires said she also called Lakeside House last week with concerns, but she believes no one ever showed up.
Squires said she thought Lakeside should have checked on him more often.
“If they had come…that kid might still be alive,” she says. “I blame Lakeside for not coming. Really…it’s sad.
“He shouldn’t have been unsupervised, living alone,” Sperger said.
Lakeside House Residence manager Peter Wood declined to comment on Thursday, saying he needed to speak to the organization’s board first. Wood said he might be able to comment further and elaborate on who Kavota is after speaking with its board.
“It’s a tragedy” said Wood.
Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has additional information is asked to contact the State Police at 518-873-2750.