JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. (AP) — A police officer responding to a disturbance at an upstate New York business was killed with his own service weapon by a gunman who was then fatally shot by another officer Monday morning, authorities said.
Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said Officer David Smith, 43, was called to a reported disturbance at the health care facility in Johnson City when he was attacked.
Authorities said 43-year-old James Clark, an MRI technician at Southern Tier Imaging, struggled with Smith before grabbing the officer’s gun and firing at him. Smith, an 18-year veteran of the force, was hit three times and died at the scene.
“He was a good officer,” Zikuski said. “It’s tragic.”
Clark, from nearby Greene, then finished discharging the weapon’s entire 15-round magazine by shooting at an unnamed other officer, who shot him. Clark died in surgery at a hospital just over three hours later.
“He obviously had some sort of mental breakdown,” Zikuski said. “We may never know.”
Smith was married and had one child, the chief said.
“I was deeply saddened to learn that Officer David Wayne Smith was killed in the line of duty today,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful for his service and extend our heartfelt condolences.”
The shooting comes just three days shy of the fifth anniversary of a mass shooting in the area. Jiverly Wong shot and killed 13 people before killing himself in an immigrant center in nearby Binghamton on April 3, 2009.
Autopsies were being conducted Monday on both men.
Zikuski said Clark was described by co-workers as a “model employee” and had no known mental problems or criminal history. Police do not have a motive, but they were searching Clark’s home for clues.
Police said that when Clark entered the Southern Tier Imaging building for work Monday morning, he became embroiled in a dispute with co-workers. At one point, he grabbed a co-worker, shook him and made threats indicating there was a bomb in the building, Zikuski said.
That prompted the call that sent Smith to the scene. Zikuski said Smith never had a chance to radio for assistance before he was attacked.