A man with no history of violence killed a police officer with his own weapon during a confrontation in a small city in upstate New York, police said.
David Smith, 43, an 18-year veteran of the Johnson City Police Department, was killed in a struggle with James Clark early Monday at Southern Tier Imaging. Clark, 43, was wounded by another officer and died three hours later at a hospital.
Smith was the first police officer in Johnson City to die in the line of duty in about 90 years, Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said.
Zikuski said Clark, who had been an MRI technician at Southern Tier since 2005, was described as a model employee. His only criminal record was a drunken driving arrest when he was in his 20s, and investigators have found no history of mental illness.
But on Monday Clark, appearing disturbed, told another employee there was a bomb in the building. When Smith responded, Clark ran to his squad car and reached through the window.
“Officer Smith never even got the opportunity to exit his vehicle,” a tearful Zikuski said at a news conference. “Officer Smith never stood a chance.”
After the shootout, the Endicott Police Bomb Squad searched the building and found nothing.
Both men were married and fathers. Clark lived in Greene, northeast of Binghamton, where a neighbor remembered him as "social, friendly."
Zikuski said Clark fired all 15 rounds from Smith's gun but did not hit anyone else.
“There’s no police training in the world that could’ve prevented this,” Zikuski said. “As tragic as this is, it’s more than likely we’ll never know what happened.”