A paroled sex offender has been taken into police custody after he was located on the Skidmore College campus after a manhunt earlier today. Classes resumed normally after a lockdown was lifted, but it was a strange day on campus.
Students and faculty received a campus alert via the school website, social media, text message, and email around 7 a.m. announcing the lockdown. Students on campus were asked to stay in their rooms and remain quiet.
Around 8:30, Saratoga Springs police located Shane Harding on the campus near a trail heading into Skidmore’s North Woods.
Police took the suspect into custody without incident.
A press conference at state police headquarters in Latham followed around 11 o’clock. State Police captain Scott Coburn said Harding had been sought for kidnapping and a sexual assault that occurred Tuesday.
Speaking on WNYT, Coburn said Harding, who had been living in Schodack on parole since January, had forced a female acquaintance to drive him over state lines to Hancock, Massachusetts, where he raped her.
“Initially she was willingly driving a vehicle and taking him where he wants to go. At some point, he produces a weapon, threatens to kill her if she does not comply with his demands, and drive her where he wants to go."
Harding then allegedly forced the victim to drive him to North Greenbush. Police said another person then dropped the suspect off in Saratoga Springs. The lockdown went into effect after it was reported that he was dropped off on or near the college.
Though they were back in session by 11:15, students and faculty were asked to stay out of the North Woods. The public is asked to report any suspicious items as possible evidence.
The college scheduled a forum for 5 p.m. Wednesday to allow students to discuss a distressing situation.
Skidmore’s Executive Director of Communications Dan Forbush…
“State police are still searching for evidence, there is still a police presence here. We just wanted to be available to students to answer questions they have and to discuss our emergency producers.”
On campus Wednesday afternoon, freshman Ian Kuttner said he hadn’t checked his email earlier that morning during the lockdown, and was informed by another student.
“So I kind of just went outside and tried to go out about my morning thing, but there was a girl trying to get in and she said 'You know there's a lockdown going on right now, right?' and I said 'No'. And then I just went back to my room."
Kuttner then told his roommate, Nick De Palma, about the lockdown.
“So I heard him going on about something about the lockdown this morning while I was half asleep, but I didn’t have class until 12:20, so I kind of just slept through it.”
Kuttner said after today’s manhunt, he will be signing up for future alerts.
“After that I signed up for the text message alert, since I frequently don’t check my email.”
Harding had been on parole for a 2008 conviction of raping a 17-year-old woman. In February 2008, Harding was shot by police after a car chase before being apprehended.
Police said Harding removed his ankle bracelet monitor before his alleged crimes Tuesday, but many of the other details remain under investigation.