SARANAC LAKE - Village police seized at least 30 guns from a local man after investigating a complaint that he allegedly pointed a loaded gun at another person during a dispute over money.
Joseph A. Puccini, 43, of Saranac Lake, was arrested at 7:09 p.m. Wednesday after police received what they described as a menacing complaint. Puccini has been charged with two felonies - second-degree attempted robbery, and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon - along with misdemeanor counts of second-degree menacing and endangering the welfare of a child.
Police said Puccini pointed a shotgun or rifle at a 34-year-old male victim, demanding the victim give him $60. The dispute took place in the parking lot of the Algonquin Apartments on state Route 3, where Puccini lives.
Saranac Lake village police seized 15 rifles and shotguns, and 15 handguns, seen here in the village police station, from a Saranac Lake man Wednesday after he allegedly pointed a loaded gun at another person in the parking lot of a local apartment complex.
(Photo — Saranac Lake Police Department)
Police Chief Bruce Nason said the alleged victim heard the gun loading a round as Puccini raised it and pointed it at him.
"He described it as a clunking sound, as if the gun was chambering a round," Nason said.
The two were about 8 feet apart at the time, and numerous children were present when the incident took place, Nason said. A witness stepped in and was able to calm Puccini down and get him to return to his apartment, Nason said.
A short time later, the alleged victim and witness came to the police station to report the incident. Police obtained a search warrant and seized 30 guns from Puccini's apartment: 15 handguns and 15 long guns.
Of the handguns, eight were described as "fully functional," and one was loaded. Nason said their preliminary investigation revealed Puccini doesn't have a valid license to possess handguns.
"The long guns, as far as we can tell, there's nothing that says he can't (possess them), but because we're not sure which one was actually used when he pointed it at the victim, we seized them all," Nason said.
Asked what sparked the dispute, Nason said it had to do with money.
"Preliminarily, it certainly sounds like that, but there is more to it than what they've initially told us, and we're going to continue to investigate to see what develops," he said.
Puccini was being held at the village police station this morning, pending arraignment in village court.