Watertown council considers extra security at City Hall after shooting

Craig Fox, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.
·3 min read

May 4—WATERTOWN — City officials will soon start working on a plan to beef up security in City Hall following last week's murders of two business owners less than a block away.

Councilman Leonard G. Spaziani, who was appointed to City Council two weeks ago, recommends that the city make major changes in the way the public can enter City Hall.

"I think it's time, especially after what happened last week, that the city should give serious consideration of putting together a package that this building is secure and nobody can get in," he said. "If they don't have business here, they should not be here."

Councilman Spaziani is a part-time security officer at the Dulles State Office Building and knows how the public has to show their identification and sign in before they can enter that building.

The councilman stressed that people have to show an ID to buy a case of beer or go to the bank, so "what's a big deal" about showing identification at City Hall.

His comments at Monday night's City Council meeting less than a week after Maxine M. Quigg, 50, and Terence M. O'Brien, 53, were fatally shot when former employee Barry K. Stewart, went into their Clinton Street real estate office Wednesday afternoon and opened fire, killing them both.

His colleagues on council agreed that the city should look at making security tighter at City Hall, 245 Washington St., especially after what happened just down the street to the owners of Bridgeview Real Estate Services LLC, 145 Clinton St., Suite 111.

Councilwoman Sarah V. Compo, who works at the state office building, said beefed up security was something that went through her mind after the murders happened so close to where she works and to City Hall.

"I think the time is right to do something like that," she said.

Councilman Spaziani said the city should talk to the state Office of Court Administration about using security officers who oversee security of City Court facilities in City Hall to see what they can do to improve security there.

He told his council colleagues that the City Court security officers have wondered why the city hasn't approached the state about getting help from them in the past.

"I'm sure they'd help us out," Councilman Spaziani said.

City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said City Court security personnel could probably move its metal detectors closer to the City Hall entrance, but they would probably not be able to help if a security issue occurred on the other floors at City Hall, where several departments are located.

Knowing who comes into City Hall is important if something were to happen with people becoming irate over such issues as paying their taxes or water bills, Councilman Spaziani said.

In the fatal shooting just down the block, Stewart, a former disgruntled employee, was inside the real estate office for just a minute when he allegedly shot the business owners, known for their community involvement. Stewart later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to state police.

If council wants to proceed with it, Mr. Mix said he would talk to the court administration to see how the state could help.