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A father with Alzheimer's pleads 'not responsible' for shooting son in Elma home

A 78-year-old Elma man had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease long before he shot his son in the kitchen of his Clinton Street home on Oct. 26.

On Thursday, State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia accepted Thomas L. Manuszewski’s plea that he was not responsible for the shooting “by reason of mental disease or defect.”

The younger Manuszewski, 39, has recovered and was in court with his mother for the hearing.

Manuszewski had been indicted on charges of attempted murder and assault. The plea covers both counts.

The relationship between Manuszewski and his son — also named Thomas — was close and loving, said Assistant District Attorney John G. Schoemick.

Family members said the shooting was completely out of character.

According to the prosecutor, Manuszewski’s wife’s car had been damaged when it struck a deer, and his son and wife had used Manuszewski’s car the next day. The two returned home and were discussing the issue of the damaged car’s insurance when Manuszewski came into the kitchen and tried to change the subject to who was using his car. Frustrated that he couldn’t change the conversation, the elder Manuszewski told his son he would shoot him and left the kitchen, according to Schoemick.

Twenty minutes later, after reportedly switching the ammunition in his revolver to more damaging hollow point bullets, Manuszewski returned to the kitchen, shot his son in the chest from about 10 feet away and, while the wounded man was lying on the floor, asked his wife to put more cream in his coffee.

Before accepting the plea, the judge asked Manuszewski if he understood and agreed with the outline of those events as described by the prosecutor.

The defendant answered, “I understand that, but I don’t believe it – that I would do something like that.”

He then agreed the shooting happened.

Manuszewski received treatment at the secure Rochester Regional Forensic Unit while his mental status was being evaluating. By the judge’s order, he now will undergo a mental examination to determine if he is dangerously mentally ill, mentally ill or neither to determine what type of facility, if any, he should be sent to.

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