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Potsdam teens involved in March gun waving incident speak at Colton-Pierrepont

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COLTON — As part of a long string of special, court-ordered presentations to possibly more than a dozen schools in St. Lawrence County, Sawyer M. Pignona and Connor I. Warden appeared Friday morning back at the very school where they made the biggest mistake of their lives nine months prior.

Mr. Pignona and Mr. Warden spoke in front of approximately half of the school’s students, as well as parents, community members, faculty and staff who were affected by their decision to go onto school grounds, roll down their car window and wave a rifle in the air on March 18.

For about an hour, the teenagers went in depth into the events leading up to that day, what transpired following, and what they have learned in the past handful of months.

“It was a very uncomfortable situation that caused high anxiety, it was unsafe and it was a bad decision. They know it,” Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash said. “But we’re an education institution and what do we do with things like this? We turn it into a teachable moment.”

During the presentation, Mr. Warden recounted a meeting at the school following the incident. “We explained to the teachers what had happened and they said how they felt. It was the first time I heard their side. I saw how scared they were at the time.

“Before, I was just worried about how it affected me and my family,” Mr. Warden said. “Then I saw these people that were scared for their lives. … I felt so bad and terrible, all I could do was apologize for the way that we made them feel.”

This summer, both teens pleaded guilty in St. Lawrence County Court, Canton, to criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds and were placed under one year of interim probation. Mr. Pignona also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of second-degree menacing.

Conditions of the interim probation include 450 hours of community service.

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