UPDATE: 11 a.m. Monday
East Hampton School Superintendent Richard Burns assured parents and staff by email on Saturday “that our students and staff were never in danger” when Harry Dalian visited the John Marshall Elementary School on May 1. He was arrested two days later at a rest stop in Wainscott by East Hampton Village Police, who charged him with impersonating a police officer. At the time of his arrest, police found a loaded handgun in his possession. He was not armed when he visited the school, police have said.
In a statement on Saturday that Mr. Burns cited in his email to the school community, Village Police Chief Larsen stressed that there was no evidence that Mr. Dalian had a weapon in his possession when he was on school property on May 1.
UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
East Hampton Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen issued a statement late Saturday morning intended to calm community members about Mr. Dalian’s visit to the John Marshall Elementary School on May 1, which apparently took place in the school parking lot.
“The Police Department acted quickly in dealing with this situation as I was personally concerned as to the motive and stability of the defendant. Now that the investigation has concluded, I feel reasonably certain to say, at no time on May 1 during Mr. Dalian’s visit to the school were any children or faculty in danger,” Chief Larsen said in the release.
The statement continues, in bold type: “In fact, there is no evidence that the defendant had any weapons in his possession at the time he was on school property.”
Chief Larsen said he is asking the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department to permanently revoke Mr. Dalian’s gun permit and that he has been banned forever from all school properties.
“I realize that this incident and the ‘what ifs’ will bring into question future security concerns and needs,” Chief Larsen wrote, going on to say that East Hampton School District and the East Hampton Village Police Department have always worked together to meet the security needs of the school, and have been working even harder to do so in recent months.
UPDATE: 7:50 p.m. Friday
Harry Dalian’s attorney, Edward Burke Jr., described his client as “a very concerned parent” at Mr. Dalian’s arraignment before East Hampton Town Justice Catherine Cahill on Friday evening, where he pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges. Mr. Dalian was released on his own recognizance and hugged his 2-year-old son and wife, who were in the courtroom, after his handcuffs and leather strap had been removed.
Mr. Burke told Justice Cahill that Mr. Dalian’s daughter attends the John Marshall Elementary School and that he had been concerned about safety there, saying after the arraignment that his client believed there had been an unlocked door during school hours.
According to Mr. Burke, Mr. Dalian had lost a New York City Police Department badge while still a police officer that was then reissued, only to find the old badge later on.
Mr. Burke said Mr. Dalian had no criminal record “whatsoever,” and Justice Cahill noted that and that he had hired a local attorney in deciding to release him without bail. Mr. Burke told the justice that his client had lived at his East Hampton address for six years and had worked as a computer consultant for his own business, SPC Inc., for the same period of time. Mr. Burke said Mr. Dalian had been “fully cooperative with law enforcement,” surrendering guns he was legally entitled to have.
Mr. Dalian’s son babbled during the arraignment, prompting smiles from almost everyone in the courtroom.
He is scheduled to return to court on June 13.
An East Hampton man, who falsely identified himself as a New York City Police officer at the John Marshall Elementary School in East Hampton on Wednesday, was arrested by East Hampton Village Police on Friday in Wainscott. Police said at the time of his arrest, he had a fully loaded 9-millimeter handgun.
Harry Dalian, 36, who had a permit for the gun found on Friday, had asked school Principal Gina Kraus and two police officers at the school on Wednesday about school security “and they felt a little uneasy about it,” according to East Hampton Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen.
Mr. Dalian had displayed an NYPD badge and identification at the school, but upon further investigation Village Police found that he was no longer with the force, having quit for personal reasons after working with the department from 2004 to 2006. He had reported his badge and his ID missing in 2006, Chief Larsen said.
The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department has suspended Mr. Dalian’s gun permit and confiscated nine handguns he was allowed to possess with the permit, according to a press release issued by Village Police. Mr. Dalian is no longer allowed on the school property, and Village Police have recovered his NYPD identification.
In addition, they charged him with second-degree criminal impersonation, for impersonating a police officer, and criminal possession of stolen property, the badge and ID. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Chief Larsen said two police officers, Detective Sergeant Greg Brown and Detective Steven Sheades, just happened to be at the elementary school on Wednesday morning. Both were recently promoted, and Det. Sgt. Brown, who had been assigned to the schools in East Hampton Village after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, was in the process of turning that assignment over to Det. Sheades.
Mr. Dalian was scheduled to be arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court late Friday afternoon.