Endangerment charge added in Castleton school gun case
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | July 24,2013
A homeless woman charged earlier this month with stealing a gun from a vehicle parked at the Castleton Elementary School has been charged with an additional offense alleging that she endangered children.
Crystal Figueroa, 26, was arrested July 12 at the school by law enforcement officers who swarmed to the scene following a report that a woman with a gun was on school grounds.
Teachers at the facility, where summer classes were just ending, put the school in a lockdown and officers with Vermont State Police, Rutland County Sheriff’s Department, Castleton and Fair Haven police and the Department of Motor Vehicles raced to the scene.
Initially Figueroa, who is listed as a Rutland transient in court records, was charged with a misdemeanor offense of petty larceny for allegedly stealing a .44 Magnum revolver and ammunition from a truck parked at the school.
But after further investigation, police added a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment because she allegedly tried to hide the gun in the woods and lied to police about its whereabouts, according to an affidavit written by Castleton Police Chief Bruce Sherwin.
“I believe that probable cause exists to charge (Figueroa) with recklessly endangering another person as she hid a .44 Magnum revolver and ammunition within the grounds of the Castleton Elementary School, knowing that summer school was in session and without regard for the safety of children attending summer school or utilizing the playground,” Sherwin wrote.
The chief also wrote that it was only after an appeal from a state police trooper — who asked Figueroa to “do the right thing” by removing the gun from school grounds where children might find it and hurt themselves — that she led police to a wooded area near the school driveway where the revolver was found.
Prior to that, Sherwin said Figueroa told police a false story: she had taken the gun and given it to a woman who drove away with the firearm — headed either to Rutland or Albany, N.Y.
Figueroa allegedly gave a similar false accounting to Britney Ruley, the woman who brought her to the school as a passenger in the truck the gun was taken from.
Ruley told police that neither the truck nor the gun belonged to her — she had borrowed the vehicle to pick up her child at summer school.
Before she went into the school, she told police she opened a console that contained a gun. She closed the console and went inside to get her child.
When she returned five minutes later, Ruley said both Figueroa and the gun were gone.
She said she was driving away from the school when she found Figueroa walking.
Ruley said she confronted Figueroa about the gun and during the argument that ensued, a teacher approached the pair and was told by Ruley to call police.
Ruley said Figueroa initially denied taking the gun but later said someone else had it and that she could get the gun back if Ruley gave her a ride to a home in Castleton.
Figueroa was due to appear in Rutland criminal court Monday to answer to the petty larceny and reckless endangerment charge as well as an unrelated charge of retail theft for allegedly stealing cookies from a gas station in Rutland.
She failed to appear for the hearings, prompting Judge Theresa DiMauro to order a warrant for her arrest in the amount of $300.