Deputies: Man in custody after hours-long search in Henrietta

Posted at: 01/09/2014 12:17 AM
Updated at: 01/09/2014 5:23 PM
By: News10NBC and Brett Davidsen

Rush-Henrietta schools are back in session and a Henrietta man is in custody after a 10-hour search that delayed classes two hours this morning. That man was believed to be armed and suicidal.

Michael Joanette, 48, is being treated for exposure to the cold. We are told he has a history of mental illness and went missing from his home on Martin Road in Henrietta. His car was found Wednesday night near Burger Middle School and just before 8 a.m. Thursday, a deputy spotted Joanette near Route 251 and Middle Road in Rush. We are told Joanette had a knife and was taken into custody without incident.

Sheriff Patrick O-Flynn says Joanette was distraught over a family situation that happened earlier this week. We are told he had threatened family members with a shotgun and said he was going to take his own life. After finding his care in the middle school parking lot, robocalls went out to neighbors telling them to stay indoors and that an armed man may be in the area. Overnight, the State Police helicopter, SWAT team and K-9 units were called in to look for Joanette.

We spoke with parents who were dropping off their kids at school this morning. Deb Shultis said, “I think we're all concerned for our kids’ safety and I’m glad the school district took the precautions they did.”

Joanette is now being held at the hospital for a mental health evaluation and faces potential weapons and menacing charges.

Today we learned that this is the second incident in less than a month involving Joanette. We spoke with police in Hancock, N.Y., east of Binghamton. They tell us Joanette was taken into custody on a mental hygiene arrest on December 16. Police say he has no ties to that area and appeared to be passing through town when they received a report of a suspicious person walking around with a rifle. Hancock Police say he was taken to Binghamton Psychiatric Center. What we don't yet know is how long he spent there. Police say potential charges are pending.

Police have still not located the shotgun Joanette's parents said he had. We've been asking questions about the weapon which we're told is not the same gun that police say he had in the earlier incident. Why he wasn't forced to surrender the shotgun after last month's mental hygiene arrest in Hancock is not clear.