On September 24, 2021, the Watervliet Police Department investigated a complaint of a detonated explosive device in the area of Fourth Street at Seventh Avenue. Community residents described the sound as an “explosion” which was heard by Watervliet police officers approximately one mile away.
Upon arrival, the officers observed a motor vehicle with extensive damage (pictures attached). Detectives began a coordinated investigation with assistance from the New York State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). On October 8, 2021, investigators executed a search warrant related to the explosion which also resulted in the discovery of two unlawfully possessed handguns, a 30-round extended magazine, ammunition and cocaine.
Watervliet police arrested Robert J. Melendez, a 40 year old from Clifton Park, NY (photo attached) and charged him with Criminal Mischief in the 1st Degree (Class B Felony) and Arson in the 3rd Degree (Class C Felony). In addition, Melendez was charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 2nd Degree (Class C Felony), two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 3rd Degree (Class D Felony) and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 3rd Degree (Class B Felony). He was arraigned in Clifton Park Town Court and remanded to the Saratoga County Correctional Facility in lieu of bail.
“I cannot overstate how difficult and dangerous these types of investigations can be. The quick notification by the residents, along with the attention to detail of the responding officers was instrumental to the case,” said Watervliet Police Chief Joseph Centanni. “This defendant used an explosive device to cause extensive damage to a vehicle, along with unlawfully possessing two handguns and a high-capacity magazine. We remain committed to working with our law enforcement partners and the community to relentlessly pursue and remove dangerous criminals from the streets,” concluded Centanni.