Jeremy Kaartine of Saugerties, who on June 1 shot and killed his estranged father in a New Paltz diner parking lot and then turned the gun on himself after he led cops on a car chase back to his hometown, was issued a pistol permit by state Supreme Court Justice Julian Schreibman. Schreibman approved the permit over the strenuous objections, on the grounds of Kaartine’s repeated run-ins with town police, of Sheriff Juan Figueroa, Sheriff’s Chief Civil Administrator John McGovern and Saugerties Police Chief Joe Sinagra.
Law enforcement can’t confirm that the gun used in the June 1 incident was the one Schreibman issued the permit for, but according to New Paltz police, the gun Kaartine used to slay his father and then himself was registered to him. An email between McGovern and Chief Sinagra in which the former warns that Kaartine has obtained a permit is dated May 9 of this year.
Schreibman did not return a phone call seeking comment.
To obtain a pistol permit in Ulster County, applicants must submit a detailed form, submit to fingerprinting and provide four character references. That information is used by the sheriff’s office to conduct a detailed background investigation that includes juvenile records and instances of police contact that did not result in criminal charges. The results of the investigation are then turned over to a judge who has sole discretion on whether to issue the permit and what, if any, restrictions are placed on it. All applicants must undergo an in-person interview with the judge prior to issuance of the permit. In addition to issuing a permit, judges must also approve the purchase of each individual handgun. Judges may also order the suspension or revocation of a permit.
In an interview this week, Sinagra said there was no way Kaartine should have been allowed to have a handgun.
“At the end of the day what this really demonstrates is there’s a need for law enforcement to have a voice with respect to individuals having the ability to obtain a pistol permit,” said Sinagra. “In this case, when you take a look at the history, the question that begs to be answered is, ‘How did this individual get the permit in the first place?’”
By the time Kaartine, 22, had gotten his pistol permit, he had a long history of interactions with Saugerties police. According to documents obtained from the Saugerties Police Department, Kaartine had racked up approximately two dozen interactions with town police over the last decade or so, including 10 domestic disputes. It’s unclear whether he had interactions with other police agencies.
According to documents, Andrew Kaartine, the father slain by the son, placed two calls to police in 2011 when Jeremy was 15, telling police he feared for his safety and requesting a police escort to pick his child up for custody visits. Also in that year, Jeremy Kaartine allegedly threatened to harm his father and destroy his home.
In interviews with police, documents show, Jeremy Kaartine’s mother said that he suffered from clinical depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and “physical and mental disability.” One incident, also in 2011, resulted in charges of second-degree harassment, third-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment. (The disposition of those charges, due to his status as a minor when charged, is not public at this time.)
According to a police report, Kaartine pushed his mother in a stairwell, where she sustained an injury to her thigh from a nail jutting out of the wall, and barricaded her there. In January of 2012, police were called to Saugerties High when Kaartine refused to leave a classroom. The police report on that incident said that Kaartine was “abusive and confrontational” toward the responding officer, and “punched the door, slamming it open” upon leaving the room — ultimately, Kaartine had to be physically restrained before he calmed down. At age 16, he was put on a Person in Need of Supervision Petition, which gets family court involved when other disciplinary actions by parents have failed.
Since Kaartine was 11 years old, both parents had called police multiple times to seek out police assistance in such situations, according to the documents. Police had also responded to Kaartine’s home in 2017 when he threatened suicide.
“As discussed, despite the history of domestics between Karen Masters, who was forced to surrender her pistol permit, and her son, Jeremy Kaartine, Hon. J. Schreibman, over the strenuous objections of myself and Sheriff [Juan] Figueroa, granted Jeremy a pistol permit, restricted to the premises [of his home],” wrote Sheriff’s Department Chief Civil Administrator John McGovern, who oversees the department’s pistol permit bureau, to Saugerties Police Chief Sinagra via an email with the subject line “Officer Safety” on May 9 of this year.
While Schreibman approved the pistol permit, the paperwork to actually collect them — referred to as coupons — was approved by state Supreme Court Justice James Gilpatric.
“Jeremy purchased two handguns, which were approved by Hon. J. Gilpatric. The coupons to take possession of the handguns are here at UCSO for Jeremy to pick up.”
McGovern’s unsettling valediction punctuating the email was “be safe.”
On May 15 of this year, less than a month before the murder-suicide took place, a neighbor reported that Kaartine was shooting a pistol repeatedly at a trash pail atop a chair at their apartment complex with his mother looking on. Although an investigation revealed that Kaartine had, in fact, been shooting his pistol within 500 feet of the neighboring residence — a misdemeanor under state penal law — the neighbor declined to press charges and rescinded her previous statement.
“We do what we’re supposed to do here at the sheriff’s office, which is gather the information and give that to the licensing officer,” said Figueroa, who said that he had spoken to a county attorney to determine what he could release to the press on the matter. “Ultimately that decision is made by the licensing officer … any and all information regarding any interactions with law enforcement on all applications we submit to the court. it’s ultimately the decision of the court, the licensee renders the decision.”
Masters surrendered her own pistols and pistol permit in November 2017, four days after police were called to her home when her son threatened suicide on the first of the month.
“Sometimes, people are nice to you after your [sic] dead,” said Kaartine, according to Masters in her statement to responding police. “On the day of the funeral, everybody acts like they care.”
Kaartine allegedly went on to say that no one cared about him, that he was not normal and that his existence was meaningless. Police brought him to HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston for a mental evaluation. The handgun in Kaartine’s bedroom, a Beretta 9mm, had reportedly not been removed from the box at that time. Kaartine told police that his mother had “bought the gun for him as a present … for his own protection because he spends most of his time at home.” Masters told police, the documents show, that she had purchased the gun for her son three months prior from a gun shop in the Albany area, and that she had a H&R .32-caliber revolver of her own.
According to police documents, Masters told officers that she and her son Jeremy felt threatened by the family living next door for lodging a number of noise complaints against them earlier that year (according to police documents, Kaartine made eight noise complaints about his neighbors and the children that lived there within two months that year. Many of the instances were “unfounded” according to police — in one incident, a responding officer wrote that they “[assured the neighbor] that she and her grandchildren could have fun and make noise in the pool” and noted that they were not making any noise upon arrival and “were doing nothing wrong.” Masters approached police in this period asking whether an order of protection could be arranged on her and her son’s behalf; because no arrests were made, it could not.
Along with the applicant’s criminal record, licensing officers receive a detailed questionnaire filled out by four area residents testifying to the gun-seeker’s good character, and conduct an in-person interview with the applicant. Any Ulster County resident that is charged with a crime is ordered to turn in their permitted guns to authorities until the case is adjudicated.
“In this particular case, there’s enough red flags that really should have prevented this person from obtaining a pistol permit,” Sinagra said. “This tragedy may have still occurred whether this individual had a permit or not, but we need to be responsible enough to be sure that when we recognize that there’s an issue, particularly with mental health issues, that the individual not be allowed to get a permit.”