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Octogenarian squirrel hunter granted ACD in Massena Village Court

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MASSENA - An 88-year-old Massena woman charged with shooting at squirrels from an upstairs window in her home will have her rifle destroyed under the terms of a plea bargain agreement reached with the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office.

Massena Village Justice Eric J. Gustafson granted Marcella M. Bailey of 177 McKinley Ave. a six-month adjournment in contemplation of dismissal with a stipulation that she allow the Mossberg and Sons .22 caliber long rifle she had been using to be destroyed.

If Mrs. Bailey remains arrest free for the next six months, the charge will be dismissed.

Before accepting the plea offer, Mrs. Bailey had asked St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney A. Michael Gebo about the potential consequences of being found guilty of the illegal discharge of a firearm charge. He told the Massena woman a conviction would mean she would have a criminal record and could face fines and other penalties from the court.

Mr. Gebo then offered Mrs. Bailey the ACD, with the stipulation that the .22 rifle that had been seized by police at the time of her arrest be destroyed. “I don’t want to, but I guess I will,” Mrs. Bailey told the court.

Mr. Gustafson noted the gun also would be destroyed if the case went to trial and she was found guilty. “We can go through this exercise,” he said, “but if you are convicted of this charge you are going to lose this firearm.”

Village police had charged Mrs. Bailey with illegal discharge of a firearm at 12:50 p.m. May 12. Police said they responded to a complaint of shots fired on McKinley, and their investigation revealed Mrs. Bailey had been firing rounds from a .22 caliber rifle from the second story of her home at squirrels in the back yard of her village residence. Police said Mrs. Bailey had a number of bird feeders in her back yard.

While Ms. Bailey declined comment, she did say that she routinely trapped animals and had them “relocated.”

Animal Control Officer Robert Sommerfield said he routinely helps Mrs. Bailey in moving animals she had trapped, although he noted she does a lot of the work herself.

“For a woman in her 80s she does a lot of the work herself,” he said. “She sets her own traps and if she gets something, she’ll call me in the morning and say, ‘I got one.’”

“She admitted she had put some bait in her back yard to attract the squirrels and was trying to kill them,” Sgt. Mark Englert said at the time of the arrest.

Mr. Sommerfield said, while there isn’t any part of town that’s free from wildlife, her neighborhood may actually have more animals than many other parts of Massena.

“McKinley and Jefferson Avenue gets it a little bit worse though because they’re right along the canal,” he said. “There is no one are of town where there isn’t wildlife. I’ve trapped skunks, woodchucks, squirrels, weasels and even a fox all right in the village.”

Police said they were concerned shots fired from her residence could ricochet off the rock wall at the rear border of her property. They noted there are a number of children living in the neighborhood.

Mrs. Bailey was accompanied to court by a handful of supporters and friends.

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