A town resident has accused Supervisor Steven L. Reiter of pushing him into a door in Town Hall during a heated exchange over a complaint about the use of an outdoor gun range on town land.
William Kraft gave a written statement to the State Police on Friday alleging that Reiter pinned him against a door with his chest that morning and then pushed him with his hands.
"You're a town supervisor," Kraft said of Reiter. "You don't put your hands on a constituent."
No charges have been filed.
Reiter gave a different version of the exchange. He alleges it was Kraft who leaned against him and made him feel "very threatened" during the heated dispute. He said he wanted Kraft to leave the building because Kraft had yelled at several people. He said he put his hands on Kraft as he tried to get by Kraft to leave the room.
"I wanted to get out of the room," Reiter said.
The incident started when Kraft came to Town Hall to deliver a written complaint about a Harold Road firing range on town property behind the Highway Department complex that is used by town police and area law enforcement agencies for target practice and training.
Kraft and several neighbors who live near the town-owned firing range say they are concerned about noise and potential safety hazards from what they describe as increased use of the outdoor range in recent years.
Ashlie Hayes, a Porter Center Road resident, told the Town Board on Monday that it sounds "like Vietnam" at times in her backyard because of the nearby gun range. Hayes said her home is about seven-tenths of a mile from the range, adding that she is concerned about safety because of the distance that some bullets can travel.
"I'm scared to go out in my backyard," she said, "because I'm afraid a bullet is going to hit me."
Use of the range, Kraft said, increased last summer and has become a "very large quality-of-life issue."
"We are not in any way against the people, the fine men and women in uniform, that use this facility," Kraft said. "It's not about them. It's about our quality of life and the environment and our safety."
Police Chief Christopher Salada said he has curtailed use of the gun range at night and on weekends after learning of Kraft's complaint.
The range, Salada said, is enclosed on three sides by a berm between 20 and 30 feet tall. The property is also separated from nearby homes by a field and trees.
Reiter said Kraft first contacted him with a complaint about the gun range shortly after Reiter took office in January. After researching the issue, Reiter said, he found only one previous complaint about the firing range.
Reiter said he is "more than willing to address" concerns about the gun range and directed Salada to meet with residents to discuss the issue.
"We want to make your existence as peaceful as possible in that area," Reiter told residents at the Town Board meeting.
Kraft, who also spoke at Monday's meeting, said he plans to pursue his complaint against Reiter over the incident Friday morning.
State Police Sgt. Ronald Warner confirmed that a trooper on Friday took Kraft's statement but said the incident has not yet been investigated because Kraft told the trooper on Friday he did not want to press charges. No statement was taken from Reiter.
Warner said that if Kraft chose to pursue a charge against Reiter, the charge would most likely be harassment.
Kraft's written statement said Reiter called Kraft a liar after the discussion became heated over whether there had been previous complaints made about the gun range. Kraft told the trooper he pointed his finger at Reiter and said, "Don't call me a liar."
Kraft told police Reiter then "walked right into me and pushed me back into a door. He was right in my face, with his chest against mine, and he pushed his hands against me and pushed me into the door."
Town Attorney Mark Gabriele, who was in Town Hall on Friday but not in the room when the incident occurred, said Kraft sounded "irate" and that he would recommend that the town increase security measures in the building.
Kraft said he was not "irate" during the incident and said he spoke calmly after being asked to lower his voice.