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Norfolk man charged following incident at school posts bail

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NORFOLK - The 60-year-old Norfolk man whose actions led school officials to lock down their buildings Friday morning posted a $100,000 bond Saturday and was released from custody.

Massena-based state police charged Steven R. Wells with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, first-degree harassment and fourth-degree stalking Friday following an early morning incident at the school. Wells was found to be wearing a shoulder handgun holster with a black Desert Eagle BB pistol, which is considered an imitation pistol, beneath his jacket, troopers said.

According to documents filed with the Norfolk Town Court, Wells arrived at the school at approximately 7:20 a.m. and asked a secretary if he was in the right building to see teacher Kaylene Pernice. “He said he had something he had to give to her, and I asked him if he could just leave it for her,” the secretary said in her statement to police.

“He advised me he had to give it to her in person by orders of his boss. He said he was from Syracuse and had to give it to her,” she added.

The secretary told troopers she told Wells she would check to see if she arrived at school yet, and the school visitor asked if he could use a bathroom. The secretary said she directed Wells to the faculty bathroom and then contacted Ms. Pernice and informed her there was a visitor demanding to see her.

She said Ms. Pernice immediately suspected the visitor might be Wells, said he was stalking her and urged the secretary to contact an administrator. She said high school Principal Robin Fetter responded to the area, intercepted Wells when he left the bathroom and took him to a school office.

Wells was denied access to the school by the administration, and law enforcement was notified. He was taken into custody without incident in the middle school office, according to state police. They said due to the lock down procedures initiated by school administration at the beginning of the incident Wells was not able to gain access the interior of the school, and no students were placed in any type of danger as a result of the incident.

Ms. Pernice, in a seven-page statement given to state police, said she had met Wells approximately two weeks earlier and indicated his behavior had become increasingly erratic in the days before Friday’s incident at the school.

“I don’t want Steve anywhere near me or my son. I have told him not to contact me, and he has continued to do so and is now showing up at my house and work, and this has caused me extreme anxiety. I never want to see or hear from Steve again,” she noted in the statement she signed for police on Friday.

Court documents indicated Ms. Pernice, who was out with friends, first met Wells on Jan. 12 at the Hotel Nadeau in Massena, where they visited and danced. Wells ended up going to breakfast with Ms. Pernice and her friends that night and picked up the tab.

She said Wells showed up the next morning when Ms. Pernice was dropping her son off, took her for to Norwood to get a coffee and then convinced her, despite her reservations, to allow him to watch her son’s hockey game with her.

Wells reportedly called and texted her numerous times over the next few days and suggested he wanted to buy tickets so she and her son could join him in Florida. He also offered to buy tickets for Ms. Pernice and her friends to attend a concert at the Turning Stone Casino. She rejected those offers.

She told police she went to dinner with Wells on Jan. 19 and told him she was not interested in any type of relationship with him. But she said the next day Wells called her, told her the power was out at his home and came to her residence so he could use a heating pad on his back. Ms. Pernice said Wells had her to take him to the hospital later that day.

She said over the next few days Wells continued to call and text her with minimal response. She said he asked her on Martin Luther King Day if he could see her later in the week, and she told him she was not interested.

That led to seven text messages between 1:40 a.m. and 5:11 a.m. Jan. 22, and Ms. Pernice told troopers that she told Wells to stop calling and texting her.

But Wells reportedly continued to call and text Ms. Pernice. “I would not take his calls, and he would leave voice mails on my cell phone,” she noted in her statement to troopers.

She said she had finally answered one of his calls on Thursday night, told an agitated Wells to stop contacting her. “I had enough and was going to tell Steve to leave me alone or I was going to do something,” she recalled in her statement, noting she had answered the phone after receiving five or six calls in a row from Wells.

But she said Wells called her again at 6:15 a.m. Friday, a call she did not take. A few minutes later, she looked outside and saw Wells parked behind her vehicle in her driveway.

“The driver’s side door was still open. The vehicle was running, music was playing, there was a laptop in the driver’s seat and Steve was in the passenger seat smoking a cigar,” she told police.

Ms. Pernice said Wells failed to comply with her request to move his vehicle, and she was forced to back over her yard and a snowbank to get out of her driveway. Wells also reportedly followed her vehicle after she left her home that morning, noting she had seen Wells take out a green package between the doors at her house when she was leaving Friday morning.

Minutes later, Ms. Pernice was in her classroom when she was contacted by the school secretary informing her that a man was in the office demanding to see her so he could give her a package. It was a call that led to the decision by school officials to lock down the school.

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