The Saugerties father-son duo who were both charged with felony weapon charges earlier this year after the son made threatening remarks online were in county court recently to plead guilty.
Connor Chargois of 5 Sawyerville Terrace, 18 at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty on Nov. 30 to the felony of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a charge that carries a maximum of seven years in prison. His sentencing before county court Judge Donald A. Williams is scheduled for Feb. 8, 2019.
According to authorities, back on Feb. 21, after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, Fla. and on the same day as a public forum on school safety, Chargois took to the smartphone apps Snapchat and Instagram, writing that he “env[ied] Eric and Dylan [Harris and Klebold, the Columbine shooters],” that “it must have been so f—ing fun” and that “they had the right f—ing idea.” Within hours of posting, students notified school administrators, who then brought the troubling messages to the Saugerties Police Department. Detectives, with the assistance of state police and the county DA’s office, determined that Chargois had written the messages. They interviewed both Chargois and his father, 58-year-old Bruce Chargois; while Connor Chargois admitted writing the message, he and his father denied that they had access to any weaponry.
But in the ensuing investigation, police seized ammunition of varying calibers, homemade knives, machine-fabricated gun parts and a prototype of a firearm that Connor Chargois admitted he had been manufacturing in his basement, as well as a number of completed homemade firearms in both .22-caliber and 9 mm capacities, authorities said.
Bruce Chargois made his own guilty plea Wednesday morning in Ulster County Court to a felony count of tampering with physical evidence. He will be sentenced on Feb. 14, 2019.
“I’m struggling with this case, as I have from the outset — this may be one of the most difficult sentences I’ve participated in in 39 years,” said Judge Williams. “This case and your son’s case are causing great consternation to this court. I have read every letter, every word of the hundreds of letters that I have in your support.”
Bruce Chargois admitted he hid his son’s arsenal of weaponry inside Greco Amusement Center arcade machines during the investigation into his son’s threats. He was also charged with the class D felony of third-degree possession of a weapon in Feb., but this charge was dropped in accordance with the plea deal agreed to by District Attorney Holley Carnright.
About two-dozen spectators, including Village Mayor Bill Murphy and Town Justice-elect Christopher Kraft, were in court. A number of interesting factual nuggets about the case were sprinkled into the hour-long court session. Along with the fully automatic 9mm Uzi submachine gun, an AR-15 rifle, ammo of varying calibers, homemade knives, machine-fabricated gun parts, a prototype of a gun that Connor Chargois had admitted to making in the basement and a number of finished guns in both .22-caliber and 9mm capacities, a Sten gun and a Mosin-Nagant rifle were found.
The judge asked “where in God’s name” were two high-capacity feeding devices for which the packaging was found at the Sawyerville Terrace home, but not the devices themselves.
“If those feeding devices have not been recovered, they pose an even more serious threat to this community and this court will consider that in its sentencing,” said Williams.
Bruce Chargois admitted in court to transporting the weapons from his home to his workplace in attempt to hide them. Initially, Bruce Chargois described them as “the items,” to which Williams shot back, “A toothbrush is an item.” Then, the defendant called them “the guns,” and when Williams asked him to elaborate, Chargois mentioned that he did not know what an Uzi looked like.
Williams then had the bailiff swear Chargois in and interrogated him on his knowledge of the weapon, asking whether he had ever seen a war film or performed Google searches when his son took a dramatic interest in weaponry. Bruce Chargois then told the court that he might faint — Judge Williams said later that this wasn’t the first time he’s intimidated a defendant to the point of fainting — and the court went into a brief recess.
After recovering, Bruce admitted to purchasing weapon-building kits at a Numrich Arms outlet when his son was 16, two years prior to this year’s incident.
“You should’ve asked, ‘What can my son do with these? What are the dangers? What is the final product?’” chided Williams. “Were you concerned that a 16-year-old may have components that he could assemble a machine gun with?”
The case was prosecuted by Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Kavanagh. Bruce Chargois was represented by Tom Melanson, while his son was represented by Cappy Weiner.