The first incident occurred around 4:11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5, when police received multiple calls of a fight and gunfire in front of 44 North Front St. in the city’s Stockade District. Cops from the Kingston Police Department arrived on the scene minutes later to find a car making a U-turn on North Front Street near the scene of the shooting. KPD officers initiated a “hot stop” blocking the car and, with guns drawn, ordered two men inside to step out. Police patted down the suspects and searched the car. The men were questioned and released after police failed to turn up a weapon or other evidence of wrongdoing. Another man was stopped and questioned by police as he walked away from the scene of the shooting, telling cops “nothing” when asked what had just happened, police said.
Officers from the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, state police and Town of Ulster Police converged Uptown to assist Kingston cops with an extensive canvass of the area, including rooftops and alleyways. Police found nine .40-caliber shell casings in front of 44 North Front, but did not find the gun or any evidence of bullet impacts. During the investigation, police received word that a man may have been shot in the foot during the altercation.
On Tuesday, a 25-year-old Kingston man showed up at Kingston Police Headquarters and told detectives that a bullet had grazed his sneaker during the gunplay. The man was uninjured and unable, or unwilling, to provide police with additional information about the incident. Kingston Police said that they are still pursuing the investigation.
Fourteen hours later, a custody dispute turned violent in the parking lot of the Kingston Plaza Hannaford supermarket. According to police, the incident occurred when Assonte Russ, 21, and Evalisse Ramirez, 22, of Adams Street went to the Plaza to exchange custody of Ramirez’s child with Dametrice Betrand, the child’s father. Russ and Betrand began to argue, then throw punches. According to police, when Ramirez became involved in the dispute, Russ pulled out a four-inch “Black Defender” knife and plunged it into Betrand’s back. Police arrived on the scene and arrested all three combatants. Russ was charged with felony assault and misdemeanor weapons possession and menacing. Betrand and Ramirez were each charged with misdemeanor child endangerment and violation disorderly conduct. Betrand was treated at Kingston Hospital and released. For Russ, however, the day’s legal troubles were not over. A few hours later, as he was booked into the Ulster County Jail a corrections officer conducting a strip search turned up 18 bags of crack cocaine and two bags of marijuana in Russ’s underwear, police said. Russ was charged with felony promoting prison contraband and drug possession and violation possession of marijuana. According to police, Russ was bailed out on the assault charge, but was immediately re-arrested by Sheriff’s Detectives on the drug charges. Russ was returned to jail on $10,000 bail.
Kingston Police Chief Gerald Keller said that KPD officers did not conduct a strip search of Russ when he was arrested on the assault charge. Keller said that department guidelines did not mandate strip searches unless police had reason to believe that a suspect was concealing contraband. Keller said that he had sent out a departmental memo advising officers to be vigilant and conduct strip searches when appropriate.