The story was updated with additional information Thursday, March 1.
Saugerties Police arrested a father and a son on February 27 after being alerted by Saugerties High School officials to a potential threat sent via Snapchat by 18-year-old Saugerties High senior Connor Chargois. Both Chargois and his father Bruce Chargois, 58, of 5 Sawyerville Terrace, face felony charges of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The father faces an additional charge of obstructing governmental administration for hiding the weapons after first denying their existence in initial interviews. Also, an order of protection was issued on behalf of the Saugerties Central School District.
The investigation of the complaint turned up weapons including a fully automatic 9mm Uzi and an AR15, as well as “a quantity of ammunition of varying calibers, homemade knives, machine fabricated gun parts, a prototype of a firearm that Connor Chargois had admitted to manufacturing in the basement of the house and a number of completed firearms in both .22 and 9 mm caliber capacities.” Bruce Chargois was released on his own recognizance while Connor posted $10,000 bail.
“I envy Eric and Dylan [the Columbine shooters],” wrote Connor Chargois. “It must have been so f…ing fun. They had the right f…ing idea. I’m so full of rage anymore [sic]. Nothing f…ing matters anymore.”
“I feel as though I’m not the type of person you’d want to call your friend, but I firmly believe that you do want to call me your enemy,” he wrote in later series of messages. “Just remember; when the shit hits the fan, there won’t be any time for mercy.”
Police were tipped off to the possible threat when a Saugerties High student shared screenshots of incriminating Snapchat messages with a teacher on Feb. 21, the same day as a public forum on school safety spurred by another perceived threat. The teacher brought the information to the Principal, who then informed the School Resource Officer.
With assistance from the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Police Intelligence Agency, Saugerties Detectives were able to verify that Connor Chargois was the source of the postings. This led to the interview of Bruce and Connor Chargois, and the teen admitted to authoring the disconcerting messages; however, both parties denied having weaponry.
“Sometimes I’m accused of being overzealous — you can never be overzealous when you’re protecting the community,” said Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra. “When you take a look at the postings, and there were some other internet pictures of homemade weapons and you start piecing things together it looked like they were lying to us. They were very deceitful throughout the investigation. We kept pushing and pushing and pushing, and when they realized we weren’t going to go away, they started giving out information in dribs and drabs.”
After denying weapons possession in the initial interview, Bruce Chargois hid his son’s guns within arcade machines at his workplace, Greco Brothers Amusement Co. at 3 Glasco Turnpike. In a subsequent interview on February 27, detectives separated the two parties and gleaned from the son that he did, in fact, own weaponry, leading police to accompany the father to his shop where he surrendered the five weapons that he’d hidden; only one of the weapons was registered. With a search warrant, police uncovered the ammunition, knives and homemade weapons in the Chargois home.
An avid metalworker, Connor Chargois had “purchased the parts [of the guns] individually on the internet, and what he couldn’t buy he made himself.”
“He was a very talented individual,” said Sinagra. “He was just focusing his talent in the wrong direction.”
Both were arraigned in Saugerties Village Court. Bruce Chargois accrued two felony counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and the misdemeanor of obstructing governmental administration; his son was only charged with criminal possession, but according to police further charges are pending, as additional search warrants were being executed at the time the press release was issued.
In a robocall issued by Saugerties Central School District Superintendent Seth Turner on the afternoon of Feb. 28, he reminded parents that “if you see something, say something,” and that all tips will be “investigated thoroughly.”
“On February 20, after I wrote to encourage people to speak up if you see things or know things that are problematic,” said Turner in a press release on the district website. “In this situation, the mantra ‘if you see something, say something’ worked.”
Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright weighed in. “I have said many times before, and I repeat today, that Ulster County is served by a group of outstanding, highly qualified, caring law enforcement professionals…Our goal is to keep all of our citizens safe. The Chargois investigation served as an exemplar of how, if we work together, we can live in a safer world.”
Sinagra indicated he was dismayed that the younger Chargois was free on bail. “Unfortunately we’re in the midst of bail reform in this state,” said Sinagra. “I think we’re missing the point — I don’t think people like this should be out on the street.”