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Mattituck-Cutchogue school board member accused of shooting at tenant

Douglas Cooper stands by his farmstand in Mattituck,

Douglas Cooper stands by his farmstand in Mattituck, July 11, 2015. Credit: Randee Daddona

A longtime Mattituck-Cutchogue school board member was arrested late Friday after he allegedly fired a shotgun in the direction of a tenant on his farm during a dispute over a payment, Southold Town police said.

Douglas Cooper, 67, was taken into custody at his Mattituck farm at 2200 Breakwater Rd., and charged with menacing, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon, police said. The tenant was not hit or injured, and Cooper was released after posting a $250 bail, said Martin Flatley, chief of police.

Southold police responded at 9:57 p.m., after one of two tenants on Cooper's property called them, Flatley said.

"I believe Mr. Cooper was the landlord, and there were two subjects living on his property, and the victim was one of the tenants living on his property," Flatley said.

Cooper became "irate" after the dispute over rent between himself and the tenant, and fired the shotgun, Flatley said.

Reached at his vegetable farm Saturday morning, Cooper said he did not shoot toward anyone.

"I did not and would not shoot at anyone," Cooper said. "I was shooting in the air to scare the deer out. The tenant should not have felt that I was shooting at him."

Cooper declined to comment on whether the shots took place after a dispute with his tenant over a payment. He said he has a nuisance permit to shoot deer on his property.

Cooper has served on the Mattituck-Cutchogue school board since 1994, according to a 2009 Newsday story. He said his arrest "has no effect" on his elected post.

School board president Laura Jens-Smith could not immediately be reached for comment.

Cooper's next court date is July 31.

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