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Police officer and sheriff’s deputy killed in Syracuse shootout at runaway driver’s home

Police officer and sheriff’s deputy killed in Syracuse shootout at runaway driver’s home

A police officer and a sheriff’s lieutenant were shot and killed Sunday after they confronted a driver who had failed to stop in upstate New York, police said.

The suspect opened fire with a Springfield AR-15 replica, a semiautomatic version of a military long gun, from a deck at his home, killing one of the lawmen, before he headed to the front of the house to shoot the other, Syracuse Police Chief Joe Cecile said.

Onondaga Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Hoosock was fatally shot from the deck, he said, and Syracuse Police Officer Michael Jensen was fatally shot in front of the home.

“He was ambushed,” Sheriff Toby Shelley said of the lieutenant.

The suspect was killed by return fire at the front of his residence, Cecile said. Thomas Newton, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, identified the suspect as Christopher Murphy, 33.

A man said to be a friend of the suspect’s was arrested as he tried to leave the residence through its backyard, officials said at the news conference. It wasn’t clear whether he would face charges.

The Syracuse Police Department said in a statement that its officers spotted a “suspicious vehicle” shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday on the west side of the city.

Police tried to stop the car, but the driver “refused to stop and fled the area,” the statement said. Cecile said the car, a gray Honda Civic, was evading authorities at 100 mph at one point.

Officers tracked the license plate to a home in Liverpool, an Onondaga County community north of Syracuse, and police asked for assistance after they received information that the suspect might be armed, according to the Syracuse police statement.

Cecile said the first law enforcement personnel at the scene spotted the Civic and were inspecting it when they heard something alarming. He said his lieutenant was the first to came upon the vehicle, after he “self-initiated” and decided on his own to respond to the scene. 

“They heard what sounded like a gun being manipulated, so they took cover,” Cecile said.

A full-scale shootout ensued, police said in an earlier statement.

Jensen and Hoosock were taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, where lifesaving measures couldn’t prevent them both from dying from their injuries, authorities said.

“We lost two heroes tonight, men who answered the call of duty, put on the badge the protect the community,” Cecile said earlier.

He described Jensen, before he was publicly identified, as a young officer on the job for three years.

Shelley described Hoosock — initially speaking before his name was released — as well-liked and “just a great guy.” Later, after he was identified, Shelley said Hoosock was a decorated lawman and member of the bomb squad who served the office since 2007. He is survived by a wife and three children, ages 3, 5 and 7, Shelley said.

Law enforcement leaders said at the news conference Monday afternoon that they might know what motivated the suspect but that it was too early to say for certain.

“There’s something in his past that I don’t think we can reveal at this point that may be an indicator as to why he did it,” Cecile said.

The suspect had a sparse record except for a drunken driving arrest in 2014, Cecile said, calling it “the only interaction that we know of” with local law enforcement. The disposition of that case was not immediately clear.

Joe Moran, president of the union that represents Syracuse police, described the suspect in subhuman terms as he decried Jensen’s final end of shift.

“An evil demon took him away from his children and his family,” he said at the afternoon event, adding the same for Hoosock.

Dozens of officers lined the street and saluted the ambulance carrying the officers’ bodies, with police lights silently flashing, as it passed the police department in Syracuse.

Anyone with information about the incident is “strongly encouraged” to contact the Syracuse Police Department.

The incident is the latest in a list of attacks on law enforcement officers, more than 100 of whom have been shot across the U.S. this year, according to Joe Gamaldi, national vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

A Memphis, Tennessee, police officer was killed in a shootout Friday after police responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle.

Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter for NBC News Digital.

Dennis Romero

Dennis Romero is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. 

Colin Sheeley

contributed

.

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