SARANAC LAKE — A domestic argument turned violent early Tuesday, with a woman shot as her children sat nearby.
Saranac Lake Police Department Chief Bruce Nason would not release her first name, but he said her husband, Oleg Tchernytchenko, 35, was arrested, arraigned and charged with first-degree assault, a felony, and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Three small children were home and two of them sitting with or near their mother when the shotgun was fired just before 1:50 a.m. Tuesday, the chief said.
“The children range in age from 5 1/2 months to age 4.
“They were all in the living room, and two were on the couch or next to the couch when she was shot.”
Police say Mr. Tchernytchenko pointed a loaded shotgun at his wife, with his finger on the trigger, in the midst of a heated argument.
“He had the shotgun; it was loaded. He pointed it at her. She grabbed the barrel to push it away, and the gun discharged,” Nason said Tuesday afternoon.
The gunshot hit her hand, but the injury was not considered life-threatening.
TREATED AT HOSPITAL
Mrs. Tchernytchenko called 911.
“(The call) came in at 1:50 a.m. and was first reported as a head injury,” Nason said. “But when rescue personnel got there, they realized it was a hand injury from a gunshot. The victim met the rescue workers at the door when they arrived.”
Mrs. Tchernytchenko was taken by ambulance to Adirondack Medical Center and then brought to Fletcher Allen for surgery on the injured hand.
She was still at the hospital as police investigated. Her husband was taken into custody, arraigned and sent to Franklin County Jail.
The three children were taken into the care of Franklin County Child Protective Services.
“We were not able to locate anyone in the area that is family,” Nason said.
State Police were helping collect evidence.
Police were still trying to determine what caused the fight.
“They were arguing about something,” Nason said.
Mr. Tchernytchenko had been consuming wine, the chief said.
The couple have lived in Saranac Lake for a few years. Neither were employed, Nason said, but they also had a houseful of dogs.
The house, a two-story home located at 10 McClelland St., had 17 dogs that were removed by Lena Bombard, the animal-control officer and manager of Tri-Lakes Humane Society.
Before 2 p.m. Tuesday, she and caretakers from the animal shelter had taken five Akitas and 12 Yorkshire terriers into shelter care.
“Our Humane Society was requested to go assist with dogs. We, so far, have removed 17 dogs. ... They (police) are still working on the search warrant. We’re not sure about outbuildings,” Bombard said.
There is a garage on premises.
Nason said the house was not kept clean and organized enough for children or pets.
“Some rooms were covered with (animal feces); it was all over the floor and more than a couple inches deep,” he said.
Tri-Lakes Humane Society was having the dogs examined by a local veterinarian.
“We have to evaluate each animal separately,” Bombard said. “They’re perky dogs. They’re not all sickly. They need some baths. Even if they’re perky, it doesn’t mean they’re all OK. Some of the bigger dogs are not friendly.
“We have to learn to handle them as we go.”
She was not certain if the dogs were part of a breeding operation.
“It may have been. There were only two breeds. We have Akitas and Yorkshire terriers that we know of.”
For now, the 17 dogs join more than 20 already housed at the Tri-Lakes shelter, nearly doubling the population.
Bombard said that sometimes court cases like this go on for months, leaving pets in limbo.
“We haven’t heard if the owners are going to be willing to surrender them,” she said of this case.
“We have to take care of them until there’s a legal outcome.”
Tri-Lakes Humane Society will need help with food or financial donations for food, at least for the short term.
“If people want to donate food, we need small bites for smaller dogs, too. We have a lot to feed,” Bombard said.
The shelter is located at 255 George Lapan Memorial Highway; phone is 891-0017.
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