OSWEGO — Two years after a midday shooting on East Utica Street left a man paralyzed, the alleged shooter remains behind bars in county jail awaiting trail, which was slated to start in April prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and is now tentatively scheduled for December.
Thomas M. Schrader, 60, of East 6th Street, last appeared in Oswego County Court in February, and a trial in connection to the alleged Oct. 26, 2018 shooting of a then 34-year-old black man was scheduled to start in early April. Three weeks before the April 6 start of jury selection, New York courts — along with a myriad of other enterprises — were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schrader is charged with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault, both class B violent felonies, in connection to the October shooting, which occurred in the early afternoon hours on E. Utica Street. The second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault charges each carry a sentence of five to 25 years in prison.
The case is scheduled to resume Dec. 7, but court officials described that trial date as “tentative.” Schrader has been held in the Oswego County Correctional Facility since his October 2018 arrest in lieu of $100,000 cash bail or $250,000 bond, and county corrections officials confirmed Monday the alleged shooter is still in custody.
If the Dec. 7 date holds, jury selection would likely start on that date, but the nature of a criminal jury trial in Oswego County and how it would proceed is not yet clear.
New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who oversees the state court system, said in a Monday statement the state’s jury pilot is “proceeding smoothly” and there have been “no reported incidents or complaints involving the health or safety of the participants.”
“It was not long ago that we were in the difficult position of not being able to know, or even predict, when we would be able to resume jury trials in New York state,” DiFiore said, noting confidence in the court’s ability to safely and efficiently conduct criminal jury trials is “well placed” given the thorough planning and preparation that went into the restart.
Criminal jury trials have been slowly ramping back up across the state, with Kings, New York and Richmond counties scheduled to host trials this week, DiFiore said. Queens and Bronx county courts have their first criminal trials since March scheduled to start Nov. 4.
Police described the October 2018 incident as a traffic dispute turned violent, saying an argument between Schrader and the alleged victim, Nigel Boone, that began near the intersection of East First and East Bridge streets before 2 p.m. ended 10 blocks later with shots fired.
The two men allegedly exited their vehicles and exchanged words at East First and Bridge before returning to their respective vehicles and traveling south to East Utica Street. Between East 10th and Duer the two men allegedly exited their vehicles a second time, and shortly thereafter Schrader allegedly shot the victim four times in the torso with a handgun.
The incident closed East Utica Street for several hours the afternoon of Oct. 26, and multiple shell casings could be seen in the roadway along with what appeared to be blood on the pavement.
According to police statements reviewed by The Palladium-Times, the first police officer on scene responded to what was called “harassment in progress with a machete” at about 1:56 p.m. En route to the scene, the officer was advised a male had been shot and upon arrival observed a black male, later identified as Boone, on the ground beside a white Honda sedan.
The officer approached Schrader and asked him what happened, and according to the report, Schrader told the officer “I shot him. I was scared for my life. The guns are unloaded and on my front seat. I rendered them safe.”
Schrader allegedly told the officer the victim had pulled a machete out at East First and East Bridge streets and the pair turned on the East Utica Street. Later while stopped at the traffic light at East Utica and East 10th streets, Schrader told police he saw the alleged victim walking up toward his vehicle with a machete. Schrader told police he exited the vehicle to take a photo of the alleged victim’s license plate and was punched in the face and had his phone slapped from his hands.
Schrader told officers he was scared for his life so he shot the man, saying later “when he hit me he rocked my world. I felt if he hit me again I was going to go down.”
Police said Schrader fired “multiple rounds” that struck the victim, and crime scene photos appear to show at least five shell casings in the street in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
The officer on scene asked Schrader if the alleged victim had the machete in his other hand when he threw the punch, and Schrader allegedly told police “I don’t know. I didn’t see it. He might have been hiding it behind his back.”
Authorities recovered two firearms from Schrader’s vehicle, according to court documents, and roughly a dozen rounds of .45-caliber ammunition and 20 rounds of .40-caliber ammunition. Police also said a holster was retrieved from Schrader’s front right pants pocket and another from inside his waistband.
Court documents and witness statements make no mention of a machete. Photographs taken at the scene moments after the alleged crime show shell casings, a cell phone and blood in the roadway, but no machete present. Law enforcement officials declined to comment when asked if such a weapon was found at the scene.
An officer responding to the scene said the alleged victim was bleeding from his stomach and had an apparent entrance wound in the back of his right shoulder.
Schrader eventually complained of chest pain and shortness of breath and was transported to Oswego Hospital. Officers said at the hospital Schrader spoke to his wife on the phone and made several incriminating statements. Whether or not those statements are admissible in court is likely to be a central part of the trial.
In the hours after the shooting, Schrader allegedly told police “I only want to talk to my doctor and my attorney,” before officers overhead him on the phone with his wife saying “I was involved in one of those incidents and a guy pulled a machete on me and I shot him” and “I know by the letter of the law I broke the law, but the guy came at me with a machete.”
Chief Assistant District Attorney Mark Moody has been prosecuting the case from the start, but Schrader is now on his third defense attorney. Defense attorney Edward Izyk took over representing Schrader from Timothy Kirwin early on in the process, but Izyk told The Palladium-Times Monday attorney Mary Felasco has now taken the lead on the case.
Oswego County Court Judge Donald Todd initially presided over the case, but court officials said the case has been transferred to county court Judge Walter Hafner Jr.