Five individuals were arrested Sunday morning after an apparent drunk driving incident outside of a Cayuga Nation facility in Seneca Falls.
At around 5 a.m., the Seneca Falls Police Department was dispatched to Great Swamp Enterprises, 61 Ovid St., Seneca Falls, at reports of a van ramming into a fence that borders the property.
Town police dispatched two cars to the scene. Upon arrival, an officer pulled up behind the van and witnessed the vehicle ramming into the fence in what appeared to be an attempt to gain unlawful entry, police said.
Police said the van then went into reverse and backed into the driver's side of the officer's vehicle. Witnesses reported the police car had activated its emergency lights prior to the collision, according to police.
The car was severely damaged, but police said the officer was unharmed and was able to exit the vehicle.
After recognizing there were five individuals in the van, town police officers requested for additional assistance at the scene. Police said the Waterloo Police Department and Seneca County Sheriff's Office assisted town police in making the arrests; New York State Police also assisted.
Further investigation revealed that the driver, 30-year-old Carlin T. Seneca, of 100 Hark Meadows Dr., Irving, N.Y., and the other four occupants — including a 17-year-old female — had all allegedly consumed alcohol inside the vehicle. Officers also found a small quantity of marijuana inside the vehicle.
Police said officers determined Seneca had shown signs consistent with intoxication. The Irving man, however, reportedly refused to submit to a sobriety test, a screening, or a Breathalyzer test.
The subjects themselves were uncooperative with police throughout the initial investigation, said Stuart Peenstra, chief of the Seneca Falls Police Department. While uncooperative, they did not resist arrest, police said.
"It's hard to determine if it was done accidentally or on purpose," he said regarding the collision between the van and the police vehicle.
Cayuga Indian Nation federal representative Clint Halftown claimed the five individuals involved in the incident were members of the nation's "dissident group." Peenstra confirmed, saying the five were supporters from the group called the Unity Council, although the ultimate motive of Sunday's incident is unknown.
“We want to assure the community we are doing everything in our power to suppress this lawlessness being perpetrated by a few individuals who prefer to settle their disputes through violence rather than lawful means," Halftown said in a press release."This latest incident raises the threat to public safety to a new level. We urge the courts, law enforcement, government officials and the media to send a clear message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. It is essential that law enforcement take strong action against this dissident group. Otherwise, we will only see more violence and intimidation like what happened Sunday. “
Halftown also claims members of the Unity Council have stolen five Nation vehicles and have been driving them throughout Seneca County. Peenstra said the incidents are on file and are under an open investigation at this time.
Halftown's attorneys secured a civil injunction at the beginning of May barring Unity Council members from Cayuga Nation-owned properties until courts decide the leadership dispute. The two sides will meet on Friday, May 16 in Seneca County Court and on Tuesday, May 20 in Cayuga County Court for hearings on the matter.
The Cayuga Indian Nation statement claims Unity Council members have disregarded this injunction multiple times, although the Seneca Falls Police Department said there have been no official reports of any violations.
The five defendants connected with Sunday's incident were arraigned in Seneca Falls Town Court.
Seneca was charged with felony driving while intoxicated after police discovered he was convicted of DWI within the past 10 years. The Irving man was also charged with several misdemeanors: two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment, first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child and fourth-degree reckless criminal mischief.
Finally, Seneca was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation, and five traffic violations: reckless driving, refusal to submit to a breath test, unsafe backing, open container and failure to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of change of address.
Seneca was committed to Seneca County Correctional Facility on $10,000 cash and $20,000 bond.
The other four passengers were Joshua S. Waterman, 28, 13063 State Route 438, Guanda; Tyler W. Seneca, 28, 125 Hawk Meadows Drive, Irving; Elijah L. Jimmerson, 27, of 3191 Garden Street Extension, Seneca Falls; and the 17-year-old female whose name was withheld due to her eligibility for youthful offender status.
The three named offenders were all charged with first-degree unlawful dealing with a child, unlawful possession of marijuana and open container. They are being held in the SCCF on $1,500 cash bail, $3,000 bond.
The 17-year-old was charged with possession of alcohol while under 21 years of age, unlawful possession of marijuana and open container. She is also held in SCCF on $500 cash bail, $1,000 bond.