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Winthrop-area man scheduled to be back in Stockholm Town Court Wednesday on menacing counts

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WINTHROP - A Massena man threatened with a gun during a Sunday morning confrontation with relatives said he simply wanted to talk to family members regarding his concerns about comments they had been making about him while he was recently in an in-patient substance abuse treatment program.

But by the time visit was over a warning shot had been fired in the air, punches had been thrown and a shovel had been used to break a tail light and the rear window in a violent Saturday afternoon confrontation.

Massena-based state police charged Michael A. Bell, 24, of 299 County Route 51, Winthrop, with a felony count of third-degree criminal mischief - damage greater than $250 and two counts of third-degree menacing, second-degree menacing and illegal discharge of a firearm after responding to a complaint at 2:21 p.m. Saturday in the town of Lawrence.

Bell’s step-brother, Scott Clark, went to the Scott Stoddard residence Saturday to retrieve his personal belongings and to confront Bell and Mr. Stoddard about things he had heard they had been saying about him.

“Mike accused me of being a woman beater and a lying scum bag,” Mr. Clark said in the statement he provided to state police.

He said Mr. Stoddard, referred to as his father in some court documents, started calling him out when he entered his residence and kept encouraging him to go outside with him. When they got outside, Mr. Clark said Mr. Stoddard grabbed a 2 x 4 piece of wood with nails or screws in it, so he grabbed a shovel for his own protection.

Mr. Clark said a short time later Bell walked out of the back door of the house carrying a shotgun.

“Mike fired the shotgun, but I’m not sure where he was aiming,” he told troopers.

Mr. Clark said he put the shovel down and went back to the vehicle driven by Raymond Clark that had brought him to the residence, and Bell took the shovel and smashed the back window and taillight of the vehicle, troopers said.

“Right after Mike shot the gun he pointed it at Scott Clark with both hands on it. Then Mike took his left hand off the shotgun, holding it now with his right arm and it looked like it was pointed at my car, me,” Raymond Clark told police, noting he had watched the incident unfold from his vehicle.

There were indications Raymond had not accompanied Scott into the Stoddard residence because he had had problems with Bell in the past. But he told troopers he had given Scott his voice recorder before he left the vehicle.

“I had given Scott my voice recorder figuring there could be a problem and an argument or whatever so he took the recorder and put it in his pocket,” he said.

Mr. Stoddard, in the statement he provided police, said Scott Clark had entered his residence without knocking or permission and suggested he and Bell were simply protecting themselves in light of statements Mr. Clark had made to him earlier in the day.

He told troopers Scott had called him three times that day before coming to his residence, threatening to break his bones.

“He said, ‘I’m going to do more bone breaking to Michael than you guys are ... scumbags. Pretty good, I go and get the help I need and while I’m there my own family is talking about me and running me down,’” Mr. Stoddard recalled.

He said the argument centered on concerns Mr. Clark had that family members had allegedly been telling people he had shoved and slapped his girlfriend during arguments and stolen the couple’s rent money and security deposit to buy drugs.

Mr. Stoddard said Mr. Clark had continued to make threatening comments on the phone before arriving at his residence a short time later.

“I’m going to be on my way to break your ... bones and Mikey better be eating his Wheaties. Tell Matt I’m going to blow his ... head off,” he noted in his statement.

He told state police when Scott Clark arrived at his home into the town of Lawrence he ran into his home, through the kitchen and to the door to Bell’s room. Mr. Stoddard said he had confronted Mr. Clark and the argument had moved to the porch, where there was pushing, shoving and punches thrown before Bell fired the warning shot.

He also suggested Bell had used the shovel to blow out the back window on the vehicle because Raymond Clark was backing directly at him as he was leaving the Stoddard residence.

Bell is being held at St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility with bail set at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond and is scheduled to appear Wednesday in Stockholm Town Court. Stockholm Town Justice Wayne G. Williams had also signed temporary orders of protection directing Bell to stay away from Raymond and Scott Clark and their partners and children.

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