Investigation Continues in What Lead Up to the Fatal Shooting of a Johnson City Police Officer
3/31/2014 (Updated 9:13:45 PM)Tragedy in Johnson City Monday morning as a police officer is killed and the suspected shooter is also dead.
At 7:03am Monday morning Johnson City Police Officer David Smith responded to reports of a disturbance in front of Southern Tier Imaging Center at 32 Harrison Street in Johnson City.
Within minutes police say suspect James Clark of Greene, NY had shot and killed Officer Smith.
"At this point we have no idea why Clark did what he did," said Johnson City Police Chief Joe Zikuski.
According to officials, Clark seemed normal when he left his home Mondays morning for work. He was a M-R-I technician at Southern Tier Imaging Center.
"Something terribly went wrong from the time he left his residence to when he showed up here in Johnson City," said Zikuski.
Officials are telling us that when Clark arrived at work it appeared his mental condition was unstable, and even yelled and shook another employee.
"As other employees were entering the building, he was trying to keep them out saying, there's a bomb," said Zikuski.
Zikuski says Clark then ran out of Southern Tier Imaging Center, and that's just about the same time Smith arrived on the scene. Clark ran toward Smith's patrol car waving his arms and yelling something that witnesses couldn't understand.
The suspect came up behind Smith, and punched him multiple times.
"It appears the suspect leaned in and somehow managed to get Officer Smith's duty weapon out of his holster," said Zikuski.
A struggle followed and Officer Smith managed to get out of his car before the suspect began shooting.
"Once officer Smith was down, the suspect shot him two more times..7:06 we were getting regular transmissions of shots being fired," said Zikuski.
A second officer arrived on the scene shortly after. The suspect then turned and fired on him. That officer returned fire immediately, putting Clark down.
Both Clark and Officer Smith were taken across the street to Wilson Memorial Hospital. Doctors fought for over an hour to save Smith's life, but were unsuccessful.
"Officer Smith never stood a chance...He's going to be missed, as I said, deeply by his comrades and family," said Zikuski.
Clark was also pronounced dead at 10:22am in the operating room as Wilson Memorial.
"It's more than likely we're never going to know what happened and why," said Zikuski.
Counseling is already being provided to the Johnson City Police Department as well as Smith's family. Zikuski says not much more can be done at this point.
"Where do we go from here.....we bury a cop," said Zikuski.
Officer Smith had just begun his shift at 6:45am Monday morning.
He had been working for the Johnson City Police Department for 18 and a half years. He is the first officer to be shot and killed in the line of duty in the Village of Johnson City.
Police also obtained a search warrant on Clark's car, which was parked in a lot a block away from Wilson Memorial Hospital.
Police executed a search warrant on the home of suspect, 43-year-old James Clark, at his home on Turner Street in Greene.
State Police were on scene as the warrant was executed.
Again, according to police Clark was acting normally when speaking to his family before coming to work Monday morning.
Police also say Clark's co-workers say he was a model employee and that he didn't exhibit any strange behavior before Monday.
Neighbors are shocked, describing Clark as sociable and friendly.
"I'm sure everybody is shocked and horrified. He was always such a friendly, social neighbor out playing with the kids, neighborhood kids, off playing catch with his son in the backyard, very social with the neighbors, very friendly," said Kathy Kellogg, a neighbor.
"It's very disturbing, especially because we have known him for so long. I couldn't have even dreamt something this horrible. Certainly in a million years never would have even expected this at all," said Holly Sue Vanderbunt, a neighbor.
According to police Clark had no criminal history other than a DWI arrest over 15 years ago.
Meanwhile Governor Cuomo released the following statement on the killing of David Smith Monday. He said, "I was deeply saddened to learn that officer David Wayne Smith was killed in the line of duty today. Officer Smith was a 19 year veteran of the Johnson City Police Force. We are deeply grateful for his service and extend our heartfelt condolences to Officer Smith’s family, friends and fellow officers."
UHS announced its patients and staff were safe during the police investigation Monday.
However, per police order a number of UHS offices were closed for the day.
Those offices were Cardiology Associates, Southern Tier Imaging, Southern New York Neurosurgery Center, Southern Tier Surgical Clinic, Broome Oncology, the Cyberknife Center of New York, Accusite PET/CT Imaging Center, and the UHS Physicians Practices in Wilson Square.
Neighbors from that area and others are still reeling from Monday's events.
"I came out to clean out my car this morning to go to work and the neighbor came out on the porch and we were looking at each other because we heard two gun shots. And he goes, 'Two gun shots?' And I go, 'Yeah,'" said Stan Babola of Johnson City.
"It's a little scary. My father was a police officer for 30 years. We have a little kid. He's about a year-and-a-half old and you'd like to think you're moving to a safe neighborhood. And stuff like this happens and it's a little scary," said Michael Casale of Endicott.
Wilson Hospital announced late Monday afternoon that all operations and functions will return to normal Tuesday morning.
Monday's incident brings back tragic memories of the last local officer to be killed in the line of duty.
Broome County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Tarsia was killed on July 4th, 2002 when he approached a suspicious vehicle in Kirkwood.
Two men then opened fire on Tarsia. he was the first Broome County Sheriff's Deputy to lose his life in the line of duty.
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