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Fall Semester Kicks Off with Back-to-Back Shootings in Pine Hills

By: Teresa Pavia | September 5, 2022

Police Officers on Hudson Avenue the Night of Aug. 28 Shooting

In the first two weekends of the Fall 2022 semester, two shooting events occurred in the Pine Hills area of Albany, a neighborhood heavily populated with student housing, and a common weekend gathering place for UAlbany students.

The first shooting incident occurred on Aug. 21 at around 4:10 a.m. at Washington Avenue and Quail Street. According to a press release issued by the Albany Police Department, a 26-year-old man was found at the scene with what APD described as “a graze wound to the neck.” Later, an 18-year-old man was found at the UAlbany uptown campus with graze wounds that had resulted from the same incident.

UAlbany students were promptly notified of the event with an email from the University Police Department sent a few hours after the shooting, advising them to “Avoid large gatherings…Be aware of your surroundings…If you see something, say something.”

The second shooting incident occurred exactly one week after the first, and in the same area. On Aug. 28 around 3:00 a.m, shortly after APD officers reported dealing with a “large unruly crowd” on Hudson Avenue between Quail and Ontario Streets, gunshots separate from the crowd were heard being fired on Hamilton Street near Ontario Street.

According to Steve Smith, Public Information Officer for the Albany Police Department, APD officers were stationed on Hudson Avenue as early as 8 p.m. to address quality of life issues including open containers and loud music.

Smith stated, “Within a very short period of time, people rapidly filled up [Hudson Avenue]. The street is not a block party, it’s open to traffic…APD officers were there trying to break up fights, and make sure people didn’t get hurt…and people started throwing glass bottles at our officers.”

Officers heard gunfire at the adjacent Hamilton Street. Five individuals between the ages of 20 and 29 were found at the scene, all with gunshot wounds. Later, APD was made aware of a sixth victim, a 17-year-old female who traveled back to her home in Schenectady, and notified Schenectady Police of a gunshot wound to her abdomen sustained during the same incident. Two of the victims were reported as being in critical condition, with the rest in stable condition. None of the individuals were identified as UAlbany students. No direct communication was made by the University to students regarding the Aug. 28 shooting.

Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, spokesperson for UAlbany stated, “No UAlbany students are known to have been directly involved in the 8/28 shooting, so the university decided to do more…direct outreach.”

This direct outreach involved what Carleo-Evangelist referred to as a door-to-door approach. A team of community partners went door-to-door speaking to midtown residents about public safety; University staff addressed the situation during the Student Organization Leader Summit; University Resident Assistants were directed to speak to their residents about the situation and remind them of the need for vigilance.

UAlbany, as well as other community leaders, have routinely identified personal vigilance as a tactic to avoid gun violence.

Councilman Owusu Anane, representing the 10th Ward, Pine Hills, in the Albany Common Council gave advice to college students who live in the area saying, “Be vigilant. Make sure someone knows where you are at. Secure your belongings…all common sense things to ensure that college students, let alone anyone in our neighborhood can be safe.”

The University has further advised UAlbany students to avoid the area altogether.

According to Carleo-Evangelist, “There is no safe way for UAlbany students to join large crowds in midtown. None whatsoever. If students believe they can go down there and be among those crowds in a safe way, they are mistaken and putting themselves and those with them at great risk.”

Student Affairs echoed this sentiment in an email sent to parents on Aug. 26, stating “There is no safe way for our students to be among large crowds in midtown, including those inside and outside of house parties.”

The UAlbany Programming Board has made efforts to encourage students to be social while on campus, sponsoring a new “Great Danes After Dark” program which is set to be officially launched in the coming weeks. Activities include late night movies and dance parties.

Chris Neal, Coordinator for Late Night and Evening Programs, said Great Danes After Dark will “Revamp a nighttime experience for students who may not want to go downtown, who want to feel safe on campus where they know that things will be inclusive to the fees that they are paying for.”

The vast majority of students still choose to populate Hudson Avenue and the surrounding areas on weekend nights. These large crowds are also known to attract people who are not UAlbany students.

Smith stated, “A lot of the time these kids throwing house parties, they don’t even know who’s in their house.”

Additionally, Carleo-Evangelist stated, “We know from recent experience that many of the people in these large midtown crowds are not UAlbany students - or students at all.”

Last May, multiple UAlbany students were stabbed at a house party on Hudson Avenue by individuals outside of the UAlbany community. That same night, two houses on Hudson Avenue burnt down, displacing 15 students. APD did not provide the ASP with further information regarding those cases.

Beyond acts of violence in the area, Smith emphasized the quality of life issues that result from the massive crowds which impact residents of Pine Hills who do not attend the University.

Smith stated, “Albany is a big city, and this is only one part of it…[the parties] require police officers from all over the city…The garbage and litter that is left in the neighborhood requires city resources to come clean it up.”

Littered Streets from Party Nearby Aug. 28 Shooting

Photo Credit: Steve Smith, Albany Police Department

Beyond the two incidents of gun violence in Pine Hills, there have been three reported Title IX (sexual assault) cases and an armed robbery and kidnapping which occurred on the Uptown Campus on Aug. 22.

The rise of crime in the City of Albany is consistent with a rise in crime rates nationwide, increasing significantly in 2020. Highest among the spikes involve homicides, violent crimes, and gun violence.

It is unknown who is responsible for either of the recent shooting incidents. APD asks that anyone with information step forward. UAlbany advises that students avoid midtown Albany.


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