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Saranac Lake fight leads to hate crime charge

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A Franklin County man has been arrested in connection with a racially charged incident that happened outside of Saranac Lake bar late in October.

The arrest follows criticism of the Saranac Lake Police Department by some community members who were upset that an arrest wasn't made sooner. But the police department says it wanted to conduct a thorough investigation before filing charges.

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Reported by

Chris Morris
Tri-Lakes Correspondent

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SaranacLake police charged 28-year-old Bernard J. McCormick of Vermontville with third-degree assault as a hate crime, a class E felony. He was arrested on a warrant issued by village court Sunday night.

Police Chief Bruce Nason said the arrest was made in connection with a fight that took place outside of Romano's Saranac Lanes in the early morning hours of Oct. 28.

Nason said other warrants have been issued and police are looking for other suspects.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise recently published two letters by eyewitnesses who were critical of the police department's handling of the incident. Romano's employee Jeffrey Brown wrote that one man directed racial slurs at another person and threatened to go home, get his AK-47 and "blow all of these (N-word)s away."

Another writer, Rikelmy Williams, said that her husband, who is African-American, was jumped by a "group of guys and was hurt to the point of going to the hospital and getting five stitches on his face."

Williams also mentioned the racial slurs and the death threat, and said she was upset that police didn't arrest anyone for this.

Nason said Monday that arrests weren't made immediately because his officers needed to get the facts straight. He said his officers had to get accurate statements from everyone involved before moving forward.

Nason said the incident was reported as an altercation. He confirmed that one person went to the hospital to be treated for injuries, which prompted the assault charge against McCormick.

He also confirmed that racial slurs were used during the altercation.

McCormick was processed at the police station, arraigned in village court and remanded to Franklin County Jail in lieu of bail. He was still being held at the jail as of Monday.

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