NY police fatally shoot suspect wanted in deadly rampage

9:39 AM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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HERKIMER, N.Y. - Authorities say the suspect in the fatal shooting of four men in neighboring upstate New York villages was holed up in a small, cluttered room in an abandoned bar when he died in a shootout with police SWAT teams.

State police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico says 64-year-old Kurt Myers fired through a first-floor door after troopers and FBI agents entered around 8 a.m. Thursday, killing an FBI dog sent into the room.

D'Amico says police returned fire, killing Myers.

His death ended a nearly 19-hour standoff that began after police say he killed four men and wounded two others at a barber shop in Mohawk and a car care business in Herkimer.

D'Amico says police still don't know why Myers went on the shooting rampage.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that no police were injured in the operation.

"We commend the courage and extraordinary efforts of the state police, the FBI, and local law enforcement officials in finding the suspect and ending this horrific spree of violence and bloodshed," Cuomo said. "It is now time for mourning those who we lost in this senseless act of violence."

Myers' rampage started with a fire in his apartment in the nearby village of Mohawk on Wednesday morning. Police say he then shot two people dead and wounded two others at a barbershop around the corner before killing two more at a Herkimer oil change and car wash business.

The shootings shattered the peace and rattled the nerves of Mohawk and Herkimer, two small villages about 170 miles northwest of New York City, separated from each other by the Mohawk River and the New York State Thruway.

After searching the area for several areas, officers encountered a flurry of gunfire coming from a shuttered bar on the main street in the small village.

SWAT officers, snipers and an armored vehicle zeroed in the building Wednesday, but vowed to wait out Myers until Thursday morning.

College and schools were locked down, and people told to stay inside as police hunted for the suspect.

John Seymour, one of the men wounded in the attacks told his sister, Mary Hornett, the barbershop attack came out of nowhere.

"He just said that the guys were in the barbershop and this guy comes in and he says, 'Hi John, do you remember me?' and my brother said, 'Yes, Kurt, how are you?' and then he just started shooting," Hornett said.

Hornett said her brother, who was hospitalized in critical condition, was doing well after being shot in the left hand and right hip. 

"My brother couldn't think of any reason why he would do such a thing," she said of Myers, a former customer who hadn't been in the shop for a couple of years.

Officers searching for Myers Wednesday afternoon were fired upon from the abandoned building, said state police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said.

At least one officer returned fire, but officers Thursday morning were trying to wait out the suspect.

Police snipers waited on rooftops on a block of small businesses in Herkimer as they waited for Myers to emerge.

Police identified those killed at the barbershop as Harry Montgomery, 68, of Mohawk, and Michael Ransear, 57, a retired prison guard from Herkimer. The shop owner, John Seymour, and a customer, Dan Haslauer, were listed in critical condition at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Utica.

The victims at the oil-change shop were identified as employee Thomas Stefka, in his 60s, and Michael Renshaw, in his 40s, who was a 23-year veteran prison guard who worked at Mid-State Correctional Facility.

Police said Myers began the day about 9:30 a.m. by setting fire to his apartment in the rear of a three-unit building directly across the street from the police and fire departments. Firefighters extinguished the blaze in about 90 minutes.

Investigators found several weapons and ammunition inside, but police have not said whether they belonged to Myers.

Myers lived in the back apartment of a three-unit, brick building on a close-knit Mohawk street. A number of guns were taken out of the building Wednesday morning, but police couldn't say if they belonged to Myers or another tenant.

Neighbors said they barely knew Myers, who rarely spoke, left every morning in his red Jeep and came back.

Traci Randall said the only time she remembers speaking to her next-door neighbor was when he yelled at her son because he thought he had shot an air pellet at his Jeep.

"He would walk by himself. He was kind of a loner. No wife," she said.

Neighbors said he never had visitors or friends. Gary Urich said Myers wouldn't even say much as 'Hi' to him when walking by his porch.

"I said, 'How are you doing?' No response. He just walked by," he said.

Michele Mlinar, a bartender at Cangee's Bar and Grille in Herkimer, said Myers frequently went in and had a bottle or two of Coors Light and left without speaking to anyone. She said he was always alone and she didn't even know his name until police released his mug shot on Wednesday.

Cangee's owner Candy Rellin called Myers "just an odd little man."

Neighbors said they would occasionally see him at a local bar or Little Caesars shop down the block. Sometimes, he would take early-morning walks around the neighborhood, but those who lived near him said they rarely exchanged pleasantries.

"Everybody says 'Hi' and waves and has small talk all the time," said Fred Randall, 42, a retired Air Force technical sergeant whose home is next to Myers'. "But he would walk by, people would say 'Hi,' and he would never return the gesture."

A small church on the next block was set to host a prayer vigil Thursday evening.

"I knew he was kind of strange, kept to himself," said Gary Urich, 70, who lives three doors down from Myers. "He came walking down the street one time and I spoke to him, and he kind of kept to himself."

Herkimer is a village of 7,700 named for the German immigrant family that settled in the western Mohawk Valley in the 1720s. The economically distressed villages are 2 miles away from Ilion, where a 2-century-old Remington Arms gun plant is a major employer.

 

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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