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Life Safety removes SJU junior from Palaestra game

A YouTube video recently surfaced in which a St. John’s student was forcefully removed from a high school basketball game by Life Safety.

On March 13, junior Sam Olmscheid attended a playoff game between Melrose High School and Albany High School at the Palaestra. Olmscheid left the Palaestra and was not allowed to reenter by a Life Safety officer and was later removed. This incident was recorded by junior Tom Druk, who put the video up on YouTube.

In the first 30 seconds of the video, Olmscheid can be seen speaking with a Life Safety officer. Then, a second officer approaches Olmscheid, picks him off the ground, pushes him against a wall, pins his hands and escorts him out of the Palaestra. Olmscheid was not allowed to reenter.

The video has been viewed over 1,200 times.

Olmscheid attended the game with his parents to watch his younger brother, who is a senior at Melrose.

Shortly before halftime, the Palaestra reached capacity and the fire chief ordered that there would be no reentry, said Director of Life Safety Shawn Vierzba.

“I left during halftime (to go to concessions),” Olmscheid said. “No one stopped me on the way out or warned me that I wouldn’t be able to reenter. I clearly had my hand stamped, so I thought I would be able to get back in.”

“The whole situation was extremely unorganized,” said Druk, who was working at a baseball fundraiser at the game. “They didn’t make it very clear to the fans because they all assumed that if they had a stamp, they could leave and get back into the arena.”

Druk started to film the incident between the officer and Olmscheid after he heard yelling.

“It looked like there was going to be an altercation and I wanted to have a video.”

Both Olmscheid and Druk say the video, which lasts one minute and five seconds, starts about 10 seconds after the first officer confronted Olmscheid.

“I told (the officer) I have a stamp and a seat and that I should be able to sit down,” Olmscheid said.

On March 15, Olmscheid said he emailed St. John’s Assistant Dean of Students Mattie Hawley about the incident, as he felt that he had been assaulted and wanted to press charges. On March 30, Hawley emailed Olmscheid about a possible student conduct violation as a result of the events on March 13.

“There were four discrepancies in the report,” Olmscheid said about the report.

While Hawley was unable to verify the contents of the report due to legal reasons, Olmscheid said the report claimed he pushed women and children out of the way to enter the game, forced the door open, physically assaulted the officer and that he had been drinking.

All these claims are false, Olmscheid said.

“I didn’t see (Olmscheid) push anybody,” Druk said. “He never touched anybody.”

Vierzba believes the accuracy of the report.

“I trust my officers and their reports,” he said. “That was the report that was filed and sent to Mattie Hawley.”

During the meeting with Hawley, Olmscheid showed her the video on YouTube.

“She directed me toward Mike Connolly and said she had nothing do with the actions of Life Safety,” Olmscheid said. “I told her I wanted to press charges.”

St. John’s Dean of Students Mike Connolly has requested two meetings with Olmscheid, but those meetings have not happened yet.

“I feel like I’ve been really diligent about meeting with Sam,” Connolly said. “I plan to talk with him to get a better sense about what happened.”

The video can be found at http://youtu.be/XGEd4uqCjHg.