Takeaways from shooting

A shotgun blast early Tuesday morning in a Saranac Lake living room is echoing through the community, and domestic violence isn’t the only the social issue that resonates.

Squalid living conditions, especially in homes with young children, is another. So is treatment of animals. So is estrangement among neighbors.

Village police say Oleg Tchernytchenko, 35, was arguing with his wife around 1:50 a.m. when he pointed a 12-gauge shotgun at her. She tried to push it away, and it went off, doing serious damage to her hand. She – not he, it’s worth noting – called 911. She went to the hospital, and he went to jail.

Their three children, between 5 months and 4 years of age, were taken by Franklin County Child Protective Services. This is why we have this public service. We thank these workers and hope they found a good place for the children to stay, preferably together in one home.

Even if the shooting hadn’t happened, the scene police say they encountered in the house afterward would have warranted a call to CPS – and the Tri-Lakes Humane Society.

The shooting took place in front of the three children in what police say was the only habitable room of a McClelland Street house. Police said it was squalid inside because it was also home to 17 dogs – what police say may have been an illegal kennel or dog-breeding operation. That could lead to more charges in the case, village police Chief Bruce Nason said.

“The condition of the house – the place was covered with dog feces,” Nason said. “They were pretty much living in the living room because the other rooms in the house either had dogs or they just couldn’t – it was a mess.”

The humane society took all the dogs, despite already having 23 of them in the Saranac Lake shelter. The society and the dogs could use some extra help right about now, so it would be a good time to donate money or dog food, or to volunteer to do things like take some of those dogs out for walks.

This incident also brings to mind how easy it is for people to isolate themselves from the households next-door – and how that’s a bad thing.

A neighbor across McClelland Street described Mr. Tchernytchenko and his wife as “loners” and “a little mysterious.

“I never heard much yelling,” John Farrington said. “They’d talk loudly sometimes. I was not aware of any violence or anything like that.”

Maybe there wasn’t any violence until Tuesday morning, or maybe there was. It’s hard to say. Police said they had responded to the home before for domestic incidents, though none resulted in charges.

And what about all those dogs? Were the house walls enough to conceal their numbers from their neighbors? In hindsight, that seems incredible, but in reality, it’s believable.

Our takeaways from this are as follows: First, it underlines our society’s need for CPS and an animal shelter. Second, it reminds us that it’s good for us to get to know our neighbors. That’s not an absolute guideline; it’s also important to respect our neighbors’ privacy. But sometimes, friendly interaction with the folks next door can give a man, woman or child an opening to talk about tension building up inside a home, and help them deal with it before it explodes.