The owner of the Albany semiprofessional football team insisted Monday that a handgun was among the items stolen from an Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds locker room during a game Saturday night against the Watertown Red & Black.
Metro Mallers owner Salvatore S. Iavarone said that the player, quarterback Jamarr Days, mistakenly brought the little pistol gun to Watertown in a gym bag with his clothing, $300 in cash, a cellphone and a credit card.
The player did not know the handgun, which was registered, was inside the bag when the team left Albany on Saturday because he is in the process of relocating to Texas and he had been packing for the move, Mr. Iavarone said. The player, who could not be reached for comment Monday night, told police on Saturday night the gun was missing.
He just picked up the bag, threw his stuff inside, the team owner said. It was a fluke, fluke, fluke accident. There would be no reason to bring a gun to a game.
But interim City Police Chief Gary R. Comins refuted a gun was stolen from the visiting locker room when he gave an update of the case to the Watertown City Council Monday night.
No handgun was reported stolen to us, the police chief said Monday night, adding the case remains an open investigation.
In all, 21 players reported cell- phones, iPods, cash and other items were taken. Police have not been able to determine the value of the items. The thefts may have involved someone from outside the area, the police chief said.
The players dont have a lot of money, the team owner said. They play because they love the game.
City police said they are following some leads in the investigation.
Police have reviewed the facilitys surveillance video, but Chief Comins would not comment further about what was on the video.
Mr. Iavarone said the team was approached by two men before the game at the convenience store across the street from the fairgrounds. One of the men was also seen milling about the locker room right before the game, he said.
Earlier in the day, Sgt. Joseph R. Donoghue confirmed the locker room door may not have closed properly and the thief may have entered without using a key.
Police originally believed only someone with a key could have gotten inside. But police have tested the automatic-closing door since Saturday nights game and it did not work properly, the sergeant said.
Red and Black Coach George Ashcraft said Monday night he feels terrible about what happened to the Albany team, noting that he bought 20 pizzas and gave the Metro Mallers a cooler of soda for the bus ride back to Albany.
It was just a shame that it happened, he said.