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News :: Media
N.Y. officer shot to death during traffic stop
14 Apr 2007
UTICA, N.Y. — Utica Police Chief C. Allen Pylman isn't likely to forget his last conversation with officer Thomas Lindsey, even though it was ever so brief.

"It was just last week," Pylman said Friday morning. "I saw him in the hallway and asked how he was doing. He said, 'I love this job.'"

Lindsey, in his sixth year on the Utica police force, died doing what he loved, working on the Tactical Unit investigating the tough crimes that regular officers don't have the time to pursue. The 32-year-old former Marine was shot in the head and killed Thursday night, about five minutes after stopping a car for a violation.

"Traffic stops notoriously are the most dangerous. It's always the routine stop," said Pylman, who also served 21 years with the state police. "Even though I never wanted this day to come, I'm not surprised."

Police were called to the scene at 9:20 p.m. after numerous calls to 911 of shots fired. Pylman said Lindsey was wearing his bulletproof vest when he was shot and was pronounced dead at St. Elizabeth Medical Center one hour later.

"These guys could all be my sons," Pylman said. "He was part of our Tactical Unit — that should tell you something. He was one of our steady Eddies."

More than 100 city, state, county and other local law enforcement officers swarmed to the scene of the shooting in front of a weather-beaten two-family home in Utica's crime-ridden Cornhill neighborhood.

State troopers and officers from the Oneida County Sheriff's Department were at the scene Friday helping the search, pelted by rain and sleet as they went door-to-door looking for leads on a windy and bitter spring day.

"You have a jigsaw puzzle with a million pieces," Pylman said. "It's a complex investigation. There are just too many unanswered questions."

"There are suspects," Utica Public Safety Commissioner Philip Taurisano added. "We're just narrowing down who was in the area."

Lindsey is the first city police officer killed while on duty since John Creedon was fatally wounded with a .35-caliber Colt pistol in 1916. Pylman said he had no idea what prompted Thursday night's shooting and said no weapon had been found.

Pylman said the FBI has offered a $25,000 reward for the arrest of suspects responsible for Lindsey's death.

Police impounded the vehicle Lindsey stopped, a Dodge Neon, which was found a few blocks from the scene of the shooting. Two women were taken into custody and later released, Pylman said. The chief said a child also was found in the vehicle, which was taken to a state police lab in Albany for forensic testing.

The car's owner was being questioned, Pylman said.

Lindsey joined the Utica Police Department on Oct. 8, 2001. His death was the second fatal shooting of a police officer in the Utica area in a little more than a year. In February 2006, Officer Joseph Corr of the police department in the Utica suburb of New Hartford was shot to death while chasing suspects in a jewelry store robbery.

"It's somber, not a lot of conversation going on," said Utica police Sgt. Steve Hauck, who worked with Lindsey for two years on the TAC squad. "Guys are doing their job. I think sometimes you use your job as your crutch. You focus on that. I was glad to go to work, put my uniform on. It was easier for me."

Lindsey, recently divorced, is survived by his parents and two siblings. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

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