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FRONTLINE
A CASE OF INSANITY

jason mcenaney for the prosecution
Jason McEnaney, the SUNY-Albany student who was shot in the leg and groin as he struggled with Tortorici, testified about the events of that day and the extent of his injuries. He was questioned by Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Preiser. (Editor's note: These excerpts from the court transcript have been slightly edited.)

... Five minutes into the class I had just settled in, I looked left and right, assembled my books, I began to take notes, professor started his lecture, and he bolted his head up at one point and looked up to the top left corner of the classroom; where he did a lot of things like that, so I didn't suspect that it was anything. I looked over my right shoulder, because I was seated on the left side of the room, and I saw a man milling about behind a pole with a bag and he was wearing camouflage pants and he was just standing there. And the professor asked him, "What are you doing? Why are you here? Do you have business to take care of in this class?"

And you saw this person, you said, behind a pillar or pole?

There's a pillar on the left rear of the classroom; there's two, one on the left and one on the right. And he was standing behind there. And as he came forward he said to the professor, "I'm taking this class hostage. Everyone get to the left." And he pointed at the professor and said, "you." He was like talking to him, telling him something. And the professor was just astonished, he had no idea what was going on. Thereafter the man moved us all, if you're looking down into the lecture center, to the left side of the classroom, against the wall. Everyone got as close to the wall as they could. And he said-- he situated himself up on the right side, if you were looking down towards the front of the lecture center, and said, "I'm taking this class hostage. I have a loaded rifle." And just from there the hostage situation commenced.

As he rambled on about why he was taking the class hostage and what he was doing there, he said, "I want you," pointed to a girl, sent a girl out. He sent her to an office, like the registrar. I don't remember the specific office. Sent another girl to financial aid, another girl to the University's president's office and someone else to summon the Congress, the State Assembly, the President of the United States, the police force, the media, anybody that he could possibly think of to summon to make this an explosive event.

Did he send the professor out?

He sent him right after that and he said, "you, I want you to get the members of the school." Like the faculty. "Bring the faculty. I want you to bring the president," you know.

Now, you said that he told the class that he had a loaded rifle. Did you see that rifle?

Yeah, he began to brandish it soon as he situated himself and began to drink a soda on the side of the room. He said we were in for a long ordeal.

You said he was brandishing it. What was he doing with that rifle?

Picking it up, showing it to us, loading it, putting bullets in it, demonstrated an array of artillery, a lot of bullets; had them out, the whole box, like you would buy in a hunting store.

He showed you the bullets?

There and thereafter. At that point and thereafter many times. He actually threw one down, after he shot the wall later on. I'm sure we'll get to that.

I'm going to show you what's been marked as People's 4 for identification. Does this look familiar to you?

I believe those are the size of the bullets and the shell I saw afterwards.

Those are similar to the bullets that this person showed you in the classroom?

Yes.

What, if any, actions did he take with respect to the students?

He maneuvered us quite a bit. His first-- his first objective seemed to be securing the room. As soon as he got himself situated, threatened us enough so we were in the corner cowering, he made two or three students go up to the top of the classroom, where he entered, secured the-- one fellow had to break the fire glass, took out the heavy duty fire hose they have for emergency and disengaged it from the pump, took it out. It was then like a rope. And proceeded to-- Mr. Tortorici proceeded to have the guy secure the door up, lock it and tied it in a knot.

Which door was that?

That was the rear door where he entered behind the pillars. ...

Jason, after this person had the doors all barricaded, what, if any, actions did he take next?

Well, after the doors were barricaded, we were all situated and there was quite a bit of dead time. In that period of time he attempted to have-- with continuing threats for anybody that moved or presented any danger-- he attempted to communicate and negotiate, which there was a PA system that the professor wore on his shirt, hung around his neck. It was a microphone similar to this. And when that microphone had been taken off by the professor, it was lying on the floor, like in front of that podium. That microphone was then stood up and situated in front of Mr. Tortorici, who proceeded to come across the classroom from where I told you before and up to where there appears to be a little box, maybe six rows down on the upper part of that lecture center. He was down there in that row. All of his belongings came down there and we were situated in the front of the classroom, he had us in front of him.

Did he say anything to you at that time?

Well, after he began the negotiations with the people outside, he was staring at me. And I looked up and he looked at me, and this is when I was approximately four or five feet away from the table and chairs at the bottom of the chart. And he said, "What were you looking at? Don't be a tough guy." He's like, "I know who the tough guys are around here. Don't try to play the hero." you want to be the tough guys?" ...

I was like, "No, sir."

And he was like, "Don't play the hero."

And I was like, "Yes, sir."

Then he told me to sit on top of the table in a target position, where I was sitting perched on the side of the table. He said, "Put your hands on the side so I can see them," because there was a doorknob there, and he told me not to move. And I was just sitting there and he was up in that-- it would be a diagonal shot with his gun, he was pointing it at me; if I moved, he would look at me with a sideways glance and point the gun at me and then he would put it back down again.

Then he began talking again to the negotiators, had his gun with him, and just-- they were going nowhere. He had the class in kind of an uproar because he seemed as if-- he said to the negotiators at one point-- he seemed as if I was going to be the first one to be shot. He said that to me, he said, "You're going first." And if I remember correctly, I know he said something similar to this, took the microphone and said, "If my demands aren't met, I'm going to start shooting students." And he looked at me and Mr. Simpson, Dachary Simpson, who was sitting to my right. ...

After he asked you to sit on the table, what happened next?

The negotiations were faltering, he sat there and he was thinking, he was very cognizant of anybody that moved. Everyone was just sitting there. He told us that we're going to be in there for a long time. ...

Did he say anything about people leaving?

Well, at one point I was situated on the said desk that I told you before and there was a girl besides herself, absolutely beside herself, she was crying, had her head between her knees. And she said, "I'm partial to girls," or something to like that, "I feel that it would be necessary for you to leave now." And went and came down maybe to the hash mark, the four rows, and directed those people on that side of the room to unbarricade the door, "open the door and let the girl out." And he said, "nobody else moves. Let the girl out. Nobody else moves." ...

What did you do at that time?

At that point I got off the table. I went to sit on the floor, because there was a lot of confusion in the room, there was people moving chairs. I proceeded to walk across the room over to the other door. And as the other members of the classroom were taking the chairs from the handle, I went over with my right arm and moved the handle of the door open and the girl left. I looked out and saw some police officers and shut the door.

And where did you go then?

Directly back towards where I was sitting. I sat on the floor.

And did this gunman say anything to you at that time?

About two minutes later, after he had secured the door again and made sure that no one was getting in-- he hadn't, he had the people do it-- he was still up in his row, he said "What are you doing?" He looked at me. He was like, "Why are you down there? Get back on that table." And I told him "Yes, sir" again, got back up on the table. "Arms at your side." Arms at my side like that, sitting target. (Indicating.)

Did there come a time later in the morning that he moved you again?

Maybe ten minutes before eleven a.m., maybe even closer towards the turn of the hour, he moved maybe five or six of us behind him He took the most imposing figures in the room, the guys who he thought obviously could take him down, and moved us out of his way

To get to where you were going, how close did you have to come to this person?

I was within four feet of him, maybe the length of the gun.

And what, if any, action was he taking at that time towards you?

He was pointing the gun at my chest and said, "Move. I don't want any trouble from you. Move, move, move."

After he told you to move, where did you proceed to?

To the middle aisle. I was one step away, not a human step, as one physical step of the room away from him. And he was telling the people alongside him and behind him to move over into where he could see them . Mr. Tortorici looked over his shoulder and I lunged at him, grabbed the gun with my left hand, grabbed a hold of the barrel, which was pointed at my chest, brought it down to my lower extremities, my leg and abdomen. I punched him hard with my right hand and knocked him back. And at that point he started firing shots at me. He had full control over the handle and was shooting with the handle on the gun and just-- I felt the shot go through my thigh, I felt the shot go through my scrotum, and the bullets just hit the floor and concrete came up. I felt the burning on my side. And just I felt everything inside my pants hanging down. And I saw my pants were ripped and I began to run down the aisle.

Did he say anything to you at that time?

No.

What did you do next?

I ran and I was dodging students, who were-- after I had gotten hit with the bullets, the gun, I had it by the handle, I couldn't let go of it. And he went back, I put it to the side. All I did was redirect it and then grabbed it, and I threw it to the side. And as I looked down I saw brown work boots with white paint running up my side. And I didn't look up, but as far as I know now it was Tom Alexander, who tackled him. And I didn't see anything after that except the front of the classroom. And I went to the door and pulled some chairs off the door and--

Was the door still barricaded at that time?

Nobody moved it except me. I moved the chairs off the door. And I moved the table out, I swung it, lunged at the door, practically fell out of the door and was surrounded by a SWAT team. And I was screaming, "I have been hit, I have been hit. I have been shot." "Fall down." I said no. I got up. I was screaming "no" at this guy that tried to lie me down in the dark hallway. I got up and proceeded to walk through Lecture Center 4, which is an adjoining lecture center, run up the aisle. It's a computer center, so it's not a classroom. I ran up the aisle, I laid down on the front of where the pillars would be in the other lecture center. It's a similar lecture center, it's about the same size. I laid down, at which point I was pulling down my pants and I looked down and I just saw like-- looked like I had burned; it was like charred, like just a blast, a wound. I looked down and, I mean, I pulled down my underwear. And there was a girl sitting in front of me and Professor Pohlsander, who had been taken out of the room was sitting in the corner. I pulled down my pants and, I mean, my scrotum was hanging there, it was like four inches long; my left testicle was like destroyed, my leg was bleeding. I just laid down on the ground and said, "I'm going to die. Am I going to die?" And they said, "you're not going to die." They threw a pressure bag on my legs to keep the bleeding stopping. As I lay there the blood, I saw it coming out. And I went in an ambulance.

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