Trending Topics

N.Y. police officer, deputy killed in shootout

A Syracuse police officer and an Onondaga County sheriff’s deputy were both killed when they went to follow up on a traffic stop where the driver sped away


Police officers from several agencies gather at Upstate University Hospital’s emergency room in Syracuse after two officers were fatally shot in Salina on Sunday, April 15, 2024. (Dennis Nett |

Dennis Nett/TNS

Editor’s note: The officers who were killed have been identified as Syracuse Police Officer Michael E. Jensen and Onondaga County Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Hoosock.

By Jon Moss, Rylee Kirk, Marnie Eisenstadt, Tim Knauss, Darian Stevenson

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Two police officers were killed Sunday night in a shootout on a suburban street in Salina.

A Syracuse police officer and an Onondaga County sheriff’s deputy were both killed when they went to follow up on a traffic stop where the driver sped away, said Syracuse Police Chief Joe Cecile.

The officers were not identified.

The trouble started with a traffic stop at 7 p.m. in the city’s Tipp Hill neighborhood, Cecile said. That’s when Syracuse police tried to pull over a car, but the driver refused and sped off. Police took the plate number, which led them to a home on Darien Drive , a short street with tidy lawns and basketball hoops in the driveways.

There, police saw guns in the back of the car, Cecile said. And then, from inside the home, they heard the sound of a gun being readied to fire, he said.

Gunfire filled the little neighborhood as the officers and the suspect exchanged shots. The two officers and the suspect were all hit. The suspect also was killed, Cecile said. He did not identify the man.

“This is our worst nightmare come true,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh . “Our thoughts right now are with the families of those two officers, those heroes.”

Police gave some details about the two officers who were killed. The Syracuse officer had three years on the force. He was ambitious and hard-working, Cecile said.

The deputy had been with the department for a considerable time. “He was just a great guy,” said Onondaga County Sheriff Toby Shelley .

Shelley said the house, at 4945 Darien Dr. , had been secured and there is no threat to the neighborhood, but that police were still going through the scene just after midnight.

“It’s just a very sad day for law enforcement,” Shelley said.

He and the others spoke at midnight down the hill from the emergency room in front of the Wallie Howard Forensic Center. That’s where the officers’ bodies had been brought for autopsies.

Howard, the officer for whom the center is named, was the last officer shot and killed in the line of duty in Onondaga County . That was more than 30 years ago.

That streak was broken with what seemed to be such a routine call:

“We’re chasing cars every day,” Shelley said. “Every day ...”

One of the officers who responded to the scene reported seeing AR-style magazines in the back of a car, and sounds of “racking” coming from a house, according to 911 center dispatches.

An officer down call went out at 8:51 p.m.

After the shootings, police from multiple agencies swarmed the area on Darien Drive.

Shortly after 9 p.m. a vehicle was rushing a person to Upstate University Hospital, according to 911 center dispatches. Police were rushing to shut down an Interstate 81 ramp to clear the way for the vehicle.

One dispatch from the 911 center described the call as a mass casualty incident. That would indicate three or more victims. Multiple ambulances were dispatched to the area.

A sheriff’s deputy responded to a home at 4945 Darien Drive around 8:20 p.m. to assist Syracuse police, according to 911 center dispatches.

Witness: At least 20 shots fired

Mousa Alzokari, who lives directly across the street from the house where the shooting occurred, said he heard a flurry of shots at about 8:45 p.m. He called 911.

Not long after, two officers with long guns entered the back door of Alzokari’s house without knocking and went up to the second floor, where they took positions facing the shooting scene. They were still there as of 11:20 p.m., while Alzokari and five children waited on the ground floor.

Altogether, Alzokari estimated he heard at least 20 shots fired. The two officers in his house did not fire shots, he said.

At one point, Alzokari said, he saw an officer being carried to a sheriff’s vehicle and driven away. He also saw at least one person placed in handcuffs. But police continued to surround the house, leading Alzokari to believe a suspect remained inside.

Alzokari, who has lived on Darien Drive for about four years, said it’s normally a quiet street.

“The kids are scared and shaken now,” he said.

Brian Fagan, 49, heard a car ripping around the corner of Larkin Street and North Woodland Drive around 8:30 p.m. Sunday. The vehicle flew past his home with five deputy police cruisers following behind, he said.

Fagan heard tires screech as the vehicles came to a stop at the intersection of North Woodland Drive and Oakland Terrace. Then four to five gunshots went off, he said.

Ambulances, the Liverpool Fire Department and city, state and county officers rushed to the scene, Fagan said. Air 1, the sheriff’s helicopter, hovered overhead for two hours, he said.

It all happened within a matter of 20 minutes.

“I’m looking out my window now and there’s probably 30 to 40 state troopers and sheriff’s up my street,” he said.

Just after 9 p.m., the county 911 system alerted those in the neighborhood to shelter in place, according to Fagan. He doesn’t normally pick up his home phone, but with all the traffic and everything going on, he needed to answer it.

A silent procession

At about 10:45 p.m., a dozen police cars were parked on both sides of East Adams Street near Upstate hospital. There were about two dozen city police and sheriff’s deputies near the door to the emergency room.

By midnight, 100 men and women stood shoulder to shoulder from the emergency room door all the way down East Adams Street. Some were in uniform; others were wearing whatever they had on when they heard the news and rushed over.

No one spoke. The only sound was Air 1 flying overhead.

The line snapped wordlessly to attention as the officers’ bodies were loaded into the white vans that would carry them from the hospital to the crime lab.

A silent procession of police cars followed behind the vans. The streets around the hospital were blocked off. So many firetrucks and police cars came that all the side streets were full of flashing lights, too.

From far away, the hill glowed red and blue.

©2024 Advance Local Media LLC.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.