A Corning man was charged with a felony Thursday for allegedly shooting at squirrels in his neighborhood with a .22-caliber rifle, prompting emergency safety measures at city schools.
Gisbert James Hanft Jr., 21, of 188 Dodge Ave., was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, a class D felony.
According to Lt. Jeff Spaulding of the Corning Police Department, the Steuben County 911 Center received a call that multiple shots were fired in the area of the St. Vincent's Church parking lot at the corner of Flint Avenue and Ellicott Street on the city's Northside, about a half-block from Hugh Gregg Elementary School.
The 911 caller reported seeing a man carrying a rifle.
City police, along with New York State Police and the Steuben County Sheriff's Office, responded quickly but were unable to locate the man and found no indication that anyone had been shot.
They searched the area, recovering several shell casings, and canvassed the neighborhood, interviewing witnesses.
By about 2 p.m., police had gathered enough information and evidence to arrest Hanft, Spaulding said. Hanft was located at work in Painted Post. He was arraigned in Corning City Court.
The incident caused Hugh Gregg Elementary, Northside Blodgett Middle School and Winfield Elementary - all on the city's Northside - to go into a lockout, which means there is no public access to the buildings and students are kept inside, said Bill Cameron, spokesman for the Corning-Painted Post School District.
Students at Carder Elementary, Severn Elementary and Corning Free Academy on the city's Southside were kept inside for recess as a precaution, and open campus privileges at East High were suspended.
However, the safety measures were lifted by the end of the school day, and schools were dismissed as usual.
Hanft is being cooperative with police, Spaulding said. Police recovered the rifle used in the incident. There were no injuries or property damage, Spaulding added. No other suspects are being sought.