Police shoot and kill suspected killer of 4 in Herkimer County rampage

Mar 13, 2013

Updated, Thursday 5:50 p.m.: Local police officers were "overwhelmed" as they raced from scene to scene yesterday morning in pursuit of a shooter who first set his home on fire and then killed four people and wounded two others at two different locations in Herkimer County.

Herkimer update by Ellen Abbott by RyanWRVO

The horrific situation finally came to a close around 8 a.m. this morning when police say they shot and killed the suspect, identified at Kurt Myers, 64, of Mohawk, in a shootout after a lengthy standoff in an empty storefront in downtown Herkimer.

Tactical teams from the state police and FBI entered the store this morning where, according to state police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico, Myers shot and killed a police dog. At that time, D'Amico says officers returned fire and killed Myers.

"Work by the tactical teams was nothing short of heroic," D'Amico said at a press conference this morning.

Myers was holed up in a small room on the first floor of the building, according to D'Amico.

The shootout brings to an end a nearly 24-hour ordeal in the small Mohawk Valley community that sent area schools into lockdown and people displaced from their work and homes.

It started yesterday morning when police say Myers set his home on fire around 9:30 a.m. and then drove to John's Barbershop where he shot and killed Harry Montgomery, 68, and Michael Rancier, 57, and wounded John Seymour and Dan Haslauer. Myers allegedly then drove to Herkimer, located on the other side of the Mohawk River, to Gaffey's Fast Lube where police say he killed Thomas Stefka, who was in his 60s, and Michael Renshawk, who was in his 40s.

At that point, police say Myers fled to the former Glory Days bar a few blocks away and holed up. The only contact police had with Myers was a brief exchange of gunfire around 1:30 p.m. yesterday.

A "small army," as Herkimer Police Chief Joseph Malone described it, surrounded the storefront where they kept watch overnight.

During the standoff police sent in a small robot to try and locate Myers, but it was unsuccessful, according to D'Amico. He says police also deployed gas into the building. The superintendent wouldn't comment on the tactics used by police, other than to say shortly before 8 a.m. seemed like a good time to act.

Police say Myers used a single shotgun during the rampage and subsequent shootouts with police. D'Amico shot down rumors Myers had a mental history and offered no motive for the shootings. He was arrested once in 1973 for driving under the influence.

The attacks appear to have been "unprovoked and random," D'Amico said.

Myers was "apparently a loner," said District Attorney David Carpenter.

Carpenter said it will take time for the community to heal. "As a local resident my whole life, I've never seen tragedy like this," he said.

Updated, 8:57 a.m.: The suspected killer of four people in Herkimer County yesterday is dead after a shootout with police, following a nearly 20 hour standoff with law enforcement.

Here is the latest from The Associated Press:

Authorities in upstate New York say the suspected gunman in a rampage at a car wash and a barbershop that left four people dead has been killed by police in a shootout.

They say 64-year-old Kurt Myers was killed Thursday by police who had surrounded a block of small businesses in the village of Herkimer since Wednesday afternoon.

Trooper Jack Keller says police went into the building around 8 a.m. He says the shootout occurred in the basement, where Myers shot a police dog. Keller says police returned fire, killing him.

Myers' rampage started with a fire in his apartment in the nearby village of Mohawk on Wednesday morning. They say he then shot two people dead and wounded two others at a barbershop around the corner before killing two more at a Herkimer oil change and car wash business.

Hours later, a flurry of gunfire was heard near where police had narrowed their search.

A college and schools were locked down, and people told to stay inside as police hunted Myers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had traveled to Herkimer yesterday following the shootings, released the following statement a few minutes ago:

This morning law enforcement officials entered the building and, after being fired upon, shot and killed the suspect, Kurt Myers. There were no injuries to law enforcement officials, though an FBI police dog was fatally shot. We commend the courage and extraordinary efforts of the state police, the FBI, and local law enforcement officials in finding the suspect and ending this horrific spree of violence and bloodshed. It is now time for mourning those who we lost in this senseless act of violence. In the darkest of times, the bravery, kindness, and the spirit of community of New Yorkers shines the brightest, and that is what we saw yesterday in Herkimer and Mohawk as the community came together during this difficult time. The thoughts and prayers of my family and of all New Yorkers are with the friends and loved ones of the victims.

Police have scheduled a press conference for 10 a.m. and we will have more updates then.

Updated, 8:32 a.m.: The Associated Press reported moments ago that state police have shot and killed Kurt Myers, 64, who had been holed up in a storefront in downtown Herkimer since police say he went on a shooting rampage yesterday that left four people dead and two wounded.

Updated, Thursday 8:25 a.m.: We are expecting an update from the state police in the next hour or so on the ongoing standoff in downtown Herkimer as police seek the man they say shot and killed four people and wounded two others in two separate incidents in Mohawk and Herkimer yesterday morning.

Suspected shooter Kurt Myers.
Suspected shooter Kurt Myers.
Credit New York State Police

Hundreds of police have surrounded an abandoned building on North Main St. where they believe suspect Kurt Myers is holed up. Police have not had contact with Myers since about 1:30 p.m. yesterday when shots were filed from the storefront. Police say they're in no rush to resolve the situation.

WRVO's Ellen Abbott will be in Herkimer again today and we will update this post as we learn more.

Police have also released information on the two people wounded at the barbershop in Mohawk. They are John Seymour, the owner, and Dan Haslauer, a customer. Both are in critical condition at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica.

Updated, Thursday 5:55 a.m.: Police remain on high alert this morning, according to The Associated Press, outside a storefront in downtown Herkimer as they wait out a suspect they say is responsible for the death of four people in two separate shootings Wednesday morning in Mohawk and Herkimer.

WRVO's Ellen Abbott reports on reaction in Herkimer following yesterday's shooting rampage:

Herkimer reaction - Ellen Abbott by RyanWRVO

Police say Kurt Myers, 64, went on a rampage yesterday at a barbershop in Mohawk and then car wash in Herkimer Wednesday, killing four men and wounding two others before hiding inside the store. Myers also set his Mohawk home on fire around 9:30 a.m. before the shootings, police say.

According to the AP:

As a standoff with a suspected gunman stretched into another day, hundreds of police surrounded an abandoned building, where he's believed to be holed up.

Early Thursday, two loud booms were heard outside the building in downtown Herkimer, and police periodically blared sirens in an apparent attempt to encourage Myers to surrender, if alive. A police robot has been at the scene since Wednesday, and a witness says it went into the building early Thursday and came back out again.

Myers has been described an odd man who barely spoke by people who knew him, according to the AP.

More details on the shooting and manhunt are below.

Updated, 9:44 p.m.: The standoff continues tonight for the suspected killer of four men in Herkimer County in a shooting spree earlier this morning.

Police say they believe Kurt Myers of Mohawk is holed up in an empty storefront on North Main St. in Herkimer tonight after he fatally shot four people and wounded two others in back-to-back shootings in Mohawk and Herkimer.

More details on the events of today are below. Here is an eye-witness account from the Associated Press:

The owner of an upstate New York barbershop who survived an attack by a gunman who killed four people and wounded another tells his sister the gunman walked in, asked if he remembered him and then opened fire with a shotgun.

John Seymour's sister, Mary Hornett, tells The Associated Press that Kurt Myers was a former customer who hadn't been in the barbershop in a couple of years.

Two of Seymour's customers were killed in the Wednesday morning attack in the village of Mohawk. Another survived.

Two other men were killed at a car care shop a mile away in the village of Herkimer, where police have cordoned off a neighborhood and are searching for Myers.

Police believe Myers is holed up in an abandoned building after trading shots with them.

Updated, 6:00 p.m.: Officials briefed the media shortly after 5 p.m. this evening on the ongoing standoff and manhunt for a suspected killer of four people in Herkimer County.

Along with the four dead, two people were wounded in two separate shooting incidents in Herkimer and Mohawk this morning. Law enforcement identified Kurt Myers, 64, of Mohawk, as the suspect. The search for Myers remains ongoing, but police believe he is inside an abandoned building on North Main St. in Herkimer.

According to State Police Commissioner Joseph D'Amico, here's what took place: At about 9:30 a.m. fire crews responded to a house fire at Myers' residence on South Washington St. in Mohawk. Shortly after, police say Myers entered a barber shop in Mohawk armed with a shotgun and opened fire, killing two men and wounding two others.

Myers then drove across the Mohawk River to Herkimer to Gaffey's car wash where, still armed with a shotgun, he shot and killed two more people. Myers is then believed to have fled to the building on North Main St.

During the one o'clock hour, D'Amico says police exchanged gunfire with who they believe is Myers, but they have not had any contact with him at any point. They offered no motive for the shootings.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who traveled to Herkimer shortly after the shootings occurred, called it a "bleak" situation and "senseless horror."

"These are the types of peaceful, quiet communities that one would say, 'well this could never happen here.' This is one of those things that you couldn't imagine in Herkimer or Mohawk," Cuomo said. "And it's just another example that there is no community that is beyond the scope of senseless gun violence and unfortunately we see this more and more."

Cuomo urged people to remain inside and away from the area.

Police identified the four people killed, all men, but declined to identify the two people wounded. Harry Montgomery, 68, and Michael Rancier, 57, were killed at the barber shop. Thomas Stefka, who was in his 60s, and Michael Renshawk, who was in his 40s, were killed at the car wash.

Updated, 3:42 p.m.: Police remain in a standoff this afternoon with the man they suspect is behind two separate shootings in Herkimer County this morning. The two shootings, one in Mohawk and one in Herkimer, left four people dead and two wounded.

The media, including WRVO's Ellen Abbott, are awaiting a press conference to begin with law enforcement and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. When the briefing begins, you can watch it live below.

In the meantime, here is the latest from the Associated Press:

Multiple gunshots have rung out, including some fired by state police, in an upstate New York village where police are searching for a suspect in the fatal shootings of four people.

Joseph Malone, the police chief for Herkimer and Mohawk, says authorities are looking for 64-year-old Kurt Myers, of Mohawk. He says Meyers opened fire at a car wash and barbershop Wednesday morning, killing four people and wounding at least two others.

Officials say guns and ammunition were found inside Myers' apartment after emergency crews were sent to a fire there Wednesday morning.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo arrived in Herkimer early Wednesday afternoon about 10 minutes after multiple gunshots were heard in a section of Herkimer where police are looking for the suspect.

Police are focusing on a block on Main Street in Herkimer, where two people were fatally shot at a car wash and oil change business.

Cuomo left the downtown Herkimer area for a news conference being held in another part of the village.

Updated, 2:04 p.m.: The Associated Press is reporting shots have been heard in Herkimer, as police continue their search for the man they believe is behind two shooting incidents in Herkimer and Mohawk that left four people dead and two wounded this morning.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state police commissioner were scheduled to hold a press conference at 2 p.m., but media outlets are reporting the governor has been moved to a new location following the gunfire outburst.

WRVO's Ellen Abbott is on the way to the scene. 

When it begins, you can view the press conference live here:

Updated, 1:10 p.m.: Police have now identified the suspect they believe is behind two separate shooting incidents this morning in Herkimer County that left four people dead and two wounded.

A press conference with Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to begin shortly. In the meantime, here is the latest from the Associated Press:

Authorities have identified the man they believe killed of four people and wounded two others at separate shootings in neighboring upstate New York villages.

 Joseph Malone, the police chief for Herkimer and Mohawk, says authorities are looking for 64-year-old Kurt Myers, of Mohawk. Officials say guns and ammunition were found inside his apartment after emergency crews were sent to a fire there Wednesday morning.

 Soon after, police say two people were fatally shot and two others wounded at John's Barber Shop, around the corner from the apartment. Officials say the second shooting happened about a mile away in Herkimer, where two people were killed at Gaffey's Fast Lube and Car Wash.

 Officials say Myers remains at large Wednesday afternoon. Police are focusing on a jewelry store in Herkimer.

Original post, 12:27 p.m.: A manhunt is underway in the village of Herkimer, N.Y. after local police says a shooting incident took place this morning.

Four people are reportedly killed and two others wounded after two separate shooting incidents in Herkimer and Mohawk, located on opposite sides of the Mohawk River.

Herkimer police say the shootings happened shortly before 10 a.m. They are currently focusing on a jewerly store in the village as they continue to search for the suspect.

State police say a man shot and killed two unidentified people this morning at Gaffey's Fast Lube in the village of Herkimer, according to the Associated Press. Two others were killed at John's Barber Shop, in the nearby village of Mohawk.

Local school districts and Herkimer County Community College are on lockdown.