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Arrests made in brutal 2020 Hillsdale assault caught on camera

HILLSDALE — It may have taken nearly a year to arrest the four people believed responsible for the brutal assault and robbery of an unnamed victim that was initially reported on Feb. 23, 2020, “that… had taken place at an unknown location based off of a video that had surfaced,” according to a press release issued by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) on Wednesday, Jan. 20, but now those suspects have been charged with robbery in the first degree, a class B felony; assault in the second degree, a class D felony; and conspiracy in the fourth degree, a class E felony.

According to CCSO Lt. John Rivero, the investigation led Sheriff’s Office investigators along with uniformed deputies to a residence in the town of Hillsdale on Taconic Creek Road, where they executed a search warrant to collect evidence associated with the crime. 

Rivero said learning about the attack on social media was key to bringing the case the to justice in an interview on Thursday, Jan. 21. 

It was a tough case to investigate, he noted, due to the fact that it took more than a week to even locate the victim, who he said “was seriously injured.” 

When the Sheriff’s Office did find the victim, it was based off of information discovered at the crime scene, and not because he himself came forward, according to the lieutenant.

“This was not a case where we went to a live, active scene; we had to work backwards, and based on that we had to put the evidence together in a different fashion; we had to work back to the crime,” explained Rivero, who added the victim “was familiar” with his assailants, though he couldn’t say to what extent. “It wasn’t something where we showed up and the victim was bloody on the floor, and the person who punched him had a bloody fist. This was something that required a lot more detail.”

Once the victim was identified and investigators learned of his physical condition, they began to identify and pursue the four suspects. According to the police report, the victim had been “lured to the residence to meet one of the suspects, and was assaulted and robbed upon his arrival,” sustaining multiple injuries; he said he was robbed of both money and property during the incident.

Copake resident Shane Bradway, 20, was arrested on Friday, Jan. 8, after turning himself in with his attorney, Michael Howard, present. Bradway was arraigned before Judge Michael Brandon in Claverack Town Court; bail was set at $2,000 cash or $4,000 secured bond. Bradway posted bail at his arraignment and was released, with no return court date set. 

Another Copake resident, who was 17 at the time of the crime, was arrested on Jan. 8, after turning himself in at the CCSO. He was issued an appearance ticket to the Columbia County Court-Youth part, where he returned on Jan. 11.

Also 17 at the time of the crime was a female resident of Palenville, who was arrested on Friday, Jan. 14. She turned herself in at the CCSO with her attorney, Jonathan Cohn, present. She was issued an appearance ticket to the Columbia County Court-Youth part, where she returned on Jan. 15. 

The oldest among the four charged with this crime is just 23. Zachary Willis of Craryville was arrested after turning himself in with his attorney, Justin Dearmas, at the CCSO on Friday, Jan. 15. Willis was arraigned in the Town of Claverack Court before Judge Michael Brandon. Bail was set at $15,000 cash and $30,000 secured bond, which Willis posted at his arraignment. He was released with a return date to be determined at a later time.

Rivero said while no two cases are the same, this one stood out to him.

“It was a violent attack. It was a very difficult crime to watch. I was able to see the video, and it was a violent attack,” he said. “That video made the case; we wouldn’t have known about it if didn’t come on the social media platform. That brought it to our attention because it was circulating online. Obviously we were able to view it because the video was open. That’s what definitely made the case. We wouldn’t have known there even was a victim — the video was crucial. It speaks for itself.” 

Sheriff David P. Bartlett agreed the viciousness of the assault was disturbing, adding the fact it was caught on camera was critical to the investigation.

“A great deal of time and energy went into this case. Members of the Sheriff’s Office worked hard to bring this case to court. I’m proud of the great job they did to apprehend this group; this was a disturbing crime to watch,” he said, adding the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office assisted with the case.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information related to this case is asked to call 518-828-4316 and speak with Investigator Patrick Logue.

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