ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A Rochester police officer was killed during a shootout with a suspect, becoming the first member of the city’s police force to die in the line of duty since 1959, officials said Thursday.
Police Chief Michael Ciminelli identified the officer as Daryl Pierson, an eight-year veteran of the force. He is survived by his wife and two young children.
Pierson was shot just before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday while pursuing a suspect, Ciminelli said.
The suspect was wounded in the gunfight with Pierson’s partner, Michael Dipaola, who apprehended him, Ciminelli said. A bystander was also wounded.
Pierson, a 32-year-old Army National Guard veteran who served in Afghanistan, died at a hospital. The suspect’s condition and name weren’t released.
More information was expected to be released later Thursday.
Bystander Jamal Bollar, 23, said he was shot in front of his house. Leaning on a crutch, he said doctors left the bullet in his thigh because it was too risky to remove it.
Describing the shooting, he said police appeared to be chasing someone.
“I was out in front of my house taking the dog out and the next thing you know, shots were fired,” said Bollar, who was with his 2-year-old daughter on the porch. “As a father, my first reaction was to get her in the house.”
Bollar said when he heard the shots his leg began hurting, but he didn’t realize he had been shot.
“I was standing by the sofa and was feeling pain in my leg. My shirt was wet. I pulled it up and there was blood.” His uncle, Gregory Bollar, ran outside and told police his nephew had been shot.
The uncle said he saw Dipaola with the suspect on the ground and Pierson lying nearby.
“The officer remained professional. He did his job,” Bollar said. “He was a lot more merciful than I would have been.”
“It’s crazy. The whole situation went sideways so fast,” he said.
Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren asked the community to keep the officer’s family in their prayers.
“Words simply cannot express the sense of sorrow and deep loss that we feel at this moment,” Warren said. “A family has lost a loved one. The men and women of our police department have lost a family member and a friend. And we the people of Rochester have lost someone, who like every other RPD officer, put their life on the line, day after day, for us.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said flags on state government buildings will be flown at half-staff Friday in Pierson’s honor.
Before the Thursday morning news conference, dozens of police officers met with the mayor and police chief at Rochester’s public safety building, some in tears. Flags there were already at half-staff.
Associated Press writer John Kekis contributed to this report from Albany.