Neighbors describe worry, fear during SWAT raid in Schenectady

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Three people are in custody after U.S. Marshals executed a parole warrant at a Schenectady home Wednesday morning.

For nearly five hours, all eyes were on a James Street home as Schenectady police and U.S. Marshals engaged in a standoff with one of the occupants. Worry filled the air.

“We all grew up around each other,” neighbor Austyn Fitzgerald said. “We’re like family, so for something to happen like that, everybody else wants to know what’s going on.”

Just after 6 a.m., police attempted to execute a parole warrant for 24-year-old Rafael Gonzalez, of Schenectady. However, he did not cooperate and barricaded himself and two others in the house.

Police used a bullhorn several times to urge Gonzalez to come out.

“I was scared for my grandkids, you know,” Shirley Beehm said. “I didn’t want nothing to happen to them.”

Schenectady Police Lt. Mark McCracken said Gonzalez refused all contact with police, but he said they believe he was communicating with family members. When the situation hadn’t changed more than four hours later, police brought in the SWAT team.

The squad used tear gas, and ultimately, forced Gonzalez and two others to come out of the home. No shots were fired.

“He dictated what course of action we were going to take, absolutely,” McCracken said. “Just because you don’t want to go to jail doesn’t mean you barricade your door and ignore it.”

Fitzgerald and other neighbors said they live in a safe area with children always playing in the street, which made the standoff all the more surprising.

“You hear everything going on and things getting closer to home, but you really don’t expect them to be, like, next door,” neighbor Penny Shafer said.

“I guess he just didn’t want to go out without a fight,” Fitzgerald said. “He just put a lot of people in danger, especially the children in the neighborhood and everything.”

Neighbors said they still feel safe, but they will make sure to keep their eyes and ears out in the future.

“I don’t see that as often, but I’m glad they handled the situation like they did and nobody got hurt,” Fitzgerald said.

McCracken said the three occupants were taken to Ellis Hospital for tear gas exposure. No one was hurt.

Police have not said why Gonzalez was on parole or how he violated his parole. They also have not said what charges he and the other two people could face.

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