NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Talk of the Sound has obtained photographs, taken on New Rochelle school district property, of hundreds of rounds of live ammunition along with material and equipment to make thousands more. The live ammunition, along with related material and equipment, was confiscated from Scott Empara, a district electrician, as part of an investigation into alleged threats by Empara to shoot district employees and unleash his arsenal at New Rochelle High School.
On April 30th 2015, standing on a loading dock at New Rochelle High School, Empara reportedly said:
"I swear if I ever find out I have six months to live I'm coming here strapped, I’ll load up everything I've got and blow this place up".
On another occasion, Empara reportedly said “If I was to ever lose my job there were quite a few people I'd like to put a bullet in.”
Empara is reported to have a long enemies list comprised of co-workers and district administrators.
Also confiscated during the investigation was equipment to “re-charge” ammunition — a process to mechanically press re-used spent shell casings combined with bullet tips and gunpowder, to make live ammunition — and a cache of pornographic magazines.
Numerous employees have stated that for years they routinely observed Empara manufacturing live ammunition at Grove Street. Many say this was so common, and so widely tolerated, that they ceased to complain.
Some senior school district officials say they were not told about the live ammunition or pornographic magazines found at the 88 Grove Street facility, a building owned by the District which houses the Buildings & Grounds department.
These same officials state they were also not told that in 2012, a large cache of weapons — rifles, shotguns and handguns — was found at the same location. A review of Westchester County records indicates Empara does not have a pistol license which implies the handguns found at Grove Street were illegal, unregistered handguns.
In January 2012, Anthony Rigos of Aramark discovered and photographed a cache of weapons and ammunition at Scott Empara’s office at 88 Grove Street. A detailed report along with the photographs was sent to John Gallagher of Aramark. After the matter was considered by Rigos, Gallagher and Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administration John Quinn, a decision was made to ignore the incident. The information was not provided to the school board, no police report was made and no action taken against Empara.
Talk of the Sound has filed a Freedom of Information request seeking all emails and attachments sent between Anthony Rigos and John Gallagher in January 2012.
Talk of the Sound has obtained emails which show that an account of Empara’s threats were provided to Arturo Riviera, Joe Williams, Bruce Danielle, and Marty Daly. The person making the report was told that Brian Osborne and Jeff White were notified as well as others. A report was filed with the New Rochelle Police Department, by the employee not the school district. Additional emails were sent by this reporter to Osborne as well as then-board President Lianne Merchant and current-board Present Rachel Relkin.
School officials conducted what appears to have been an incomplete investigation into specific threats of violence made against particular individuals, including this reporter, as well as, general threats of violence against New Rochelle High School and Central Administration at City Hall. Empara, an electrician with an alleged history of domestic violence, obsession with guns and pornography including illegal pornography, was deemed by the board to be a threat to the health and safety of children.
A decision was made to force Empara to undergo a psychological evaluation. The board invoked Section 913 of New York State Education Law, a rarely used power that permits a school board to require medical or psychological testing “in order to safeguard the health of children attending the public schools”.
On May 5, 2015, the New Rochelle Board of Education voted unanimously to approve Board Resolution 15-295-14 DIRECTING EMPLOYEE NO. 2014-2015/8 (EMPARA) TO UNDERGO FULL MEDICAL EXAMINATION OF HIS/HER PHYSICAL AND/OR MENTAL CONDITION PURSUANT TO SECTION 913 OF THE NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION LAW.
SECTION 913 states: “In order to safeguard the health of children attending the public schools, the board of education…shall be empowered to require any person employed by the board of education or trustees or board of cooperative educational services to submit to a medical examination by a physician or other health care provider…in order to determine the physical or mental capacity of such person to perform his or her duties.”
The board resolution states that Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne questioned the mental and/or physical capacity of Scott Empara to perform the essential functions of his duties. Osborne recommended a psychological evaluation to assess Empara’s mental condition and a determination of his fitness for duty. Empara returned to work, implying that a psychologist cleared Empara to do so. Several months later Empara made a Workers Compensation claim — his fifth in 12 years — and remained out on leave for more than 7 months. He returned to work over the summer.
Talk of the Sound has confirmed that school board members were not provided a full account of Empara’s prior work history or actions at the time prior to (or after) passing the board resolution.
The New Rochelle Police Department said there were no records that the school district has ever filed a report with the police about Empara. Brian Osborne declined to explain why the police were not notified as such notification appears to be required under the New Rochelle High School and District-Wide Safety Plan which the board adopted under the New York State Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act.
There has been no public explanation as to what happened to any weapons, live ammunition, bullet tips, equipment and pornography confiscated from Empara. Sources tell Talk of the Sound that some of the confiscated items were delivered to Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Joseph Williams and remain in his office at City Hall.
A week later, on May 12, 2015, Artie Rivera of Aramark was notified by telephone by a district employee that under a work bench used by Scott Empara was a box containing 1,000 bullet tips. On the work bench there was equipment used to "re-load" bullets, two devices used to press bullet tips and gun powder into a spent shell casing to make ammunition.
Andre Houle, also of Aramark, soon appeared at Grove Street. Houle located another box, on the work bench, in plain sight. The box contained another 1,000 bullet tips.
Houle also observed two garbage bags. He opened the bags and found about two dozen pornographic magazines.
Andre Houle gathered up the hundreds of live rounds of ammunition, material to make 2,000 rounds of additional ammunition, the bullet re-loading equipment and the pornographic material. He removed all of it from the building, placed it in his car and drove away.
Possession of weapons by an employee on school grounds without permission is grounds for immediate termination (possession of ammunition or related material is not but that may change according to one school official). The weapons, live rounds of ammunition, material and equipment to make live rounds and the pornographic magazines are all reported to have been brought onto school property by Scott Empara without permission,
Despite all of this, Empara remains employed by the District to this day. Aside from these incidents, Empara has hardly been a model employee.
Empara has posted various misogynistic documents and signs at Grove Street.
A female employee observed Empara viewing hardcore transsexual pornography on a computer at Grove Street.
Empara posted a photograph of a man’s penis, badly burned as a result of supposedly urinating on an electric fence, in the break room at Grove Street.
Empara posted an anti-Muslim photograph, two birds on the water with turbans photoshopped onto their head and caption to the effect that these “Muslim birds” caused the Miracle on the Hudson crash.
Over the years, Empara was permitted to take extraordinary steps to cocoon himself in his office at Grove Street. He had a special lock put on the door so no one could enter his office, he installed a heated floor because, he said, his feet were cold during the day, he Installed a personal security system wired into his office so he would know if anyone was coming up the stairs leading to the second floor at Grove Street where his office and work bench are located.
Empara is reported to have stolen tens of thousands of dollars worth of electrical supplies and received kickbacks from vendors. Two employees reported being ordered to assist Empara in loading a large power-washed “gifted” to Empara by Rockland Fasteners.
Empara allegedly bribed a local official to obtain his electrical license. His work colleagues say he is incompetent as an electrician, does little actual work, routinely takes work-tickets from his employees to claim them as his own, and racks up massive amounts of overtime consistently making him one of the highest-paid employees in the Buildings & Grounds department.
Over the past four years, Empara has been paid over half a million dollars, much of it in overtime, an impressive figure considering numerous reports that during that time he rarely performed work. He was paid $132,020 in 2014, the last full year he worked, making him one of the highest paid non-administrative employees in the district.
Empara, who for years was the appointed Asbestos Local Education Agencies Officer for the City School District of New Rochelle, routinely removed handled, removed and transported asbestos without following required abatement procedures. Empara would store illegally removed asbestos in a “hidden” closet at New Rochelle High School. On his watch, the District illegally handled and transported asbestos material at Davis Elementary School. Following an investigation by the New York State Department of Labor Division of Safety and Health Asbestos Control Bureau the District was assessed a $6,500 fine and issued a notice of violation. Two District employees were also cited for handling asbestos without a license. Two outside contractors were issued violations for being unlicensed to disturb asbestos, one was also issued a violation notice for uncertified asbestos workers while the other was found to have a forged license.
Pat Clark, an electrician working under Empara has stated that Empara spent a good part of most work days at Grove Street, not working but often looking at pornography on a computer he brought from hone or re-loading bullets. Clark said Empara treated him “like a slave”, but accepted the bad treatment because Empara allowed Clark to hang out in his office as a companion so that Clark also rarely did any electrical work.
It was during this time period that Pat Clark used a computer to engage in a sexualized online relationship with what he believed to be a 15-year old girl from Pelham. He was subsequently arrested for attempting to have sex with a minor, the “girl” was actually a Westchester County DA agent running a “Dateline NBC” sting operation.
A copy of an article from Talk of the Sound on the Clark arrest and arraignment is posted prominently in the break room at 88 Grove Street alongside the image of the burned penis, both directly outside Empara’s office.
Enraged by one particular employee, Empara reportedly “picked up a toilet brush, used it to scrape feces off a toilet seat and wiped it all over a door knob” in the hopes that the target of his ire would attempt to turn the feces-covered door knob. A photograph was taken and a report made to school officials but again no action was taken.
Empara became angry when the story became widely known throughout the district. He reportedly made threats on several occasions to the effect that he would take retribution on whoever had spread the story around the district: the person would "get theirs" "be taken care of" or "get tuned up" that the person would be “met by a masked man outside their house with a baseball bat”.
There have been numerous reports which we have deemed credible that Empara has been in possession of child pornography on school property and that employees in the IT department assisted Empara in deleting incriminating files off his computers. There have been incidents at Albert Leonard Middle School which suggest the possibility that Empara has actualized his interest in child pornography.
Empara’s wife, a school district employee at Barnard School, has told fellow employees, who, in turn, told Talk of the Sound, that she is terrified of him. These sources say she recounted an incident where Empara fired a gun out a window during a domestic dispute in their home.
Empara’s current girlfriend is also a school district employee, working at Webster School. Sources say Empara has purchased and supplied her with MDMA, commonly known as “ecstasy”, a Schedule I Controlled Substance.
Scott Empara represents a bona fide threat of violence against the school district yet continues to have a school ID, a key fob with 24/7 access to every building, a school van and a private office.
For those readers under the impression that a mass shooting cannot happen in New Rochelle, it already has — in 1977. Fred Cowan had a large collection of weapons, idolized Adolph Hitler, told people what he intended to do: go to Neptune Movers where he work and kill people. He did. He shot 10 people, killing 5 including a police officer.
According to an investigate piece of reporting by Mother Jones magazine, “mass murder is not an impulsive crime. Virtually every one of these attacks [school shootings], forensic investigations show, is a predatory crime, methodically planned and executed.
A growing body of research has shed light on this "pathway to violence." It often begins with an unshakable sense of grievance, which stirs thoughts about harming people and leads to the planning and preparation for an attack.
“A confluence of behaviors can indicate that someone is poised to walk into a school or a shopping mall and open fire. These include an obsession with weapons, a fixation on images of violence, and a history of aggressive acts that aren't directly related to the planned attack—possibly a way for the perpetrator to test his resolve…the vast majority of mass shooters signal their intentions in advance, though usually not directly to their intended targets. This "leakage," as threat assessment teams call it, can be difficult to recognize.“
School officials should consider that if Empara acts on his alleged threats of violence, the “pathway to violence” in New Rochelle will not be difficult to recognize.