A state police trooper and a 27-year-old woman were killed Sunday night as part of an apparent domestic violence incident in upstate New York.
Trooper Joel Davis was responding to a domestic violence incident in the town of Theresa in Jefferson County. Officials say 27-year-old Nichole Walters was found dead at the scene. A suspect — identified as active duty Army infantryman Justin Walters — is in custody.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered flags on state buildings flown at half-mast in honor of Davis.
Domestic violence call
State police say at around 8 p.m. ET Sunday night, Davis responded to a domestic violence call in Jefferson County. While approaching the residence, Davis was shot once with a rifle and killed. Davis was 36 years old and lived in Evans Mills. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Officials say the alleged shooter, 32-year-old Walters, was stationed at Fort Drum.
Woman found dead at the scene
Police also found 27-year-old Nichole Walters dead at the scene. According to WWNY-TV, state police said another woman living on the property was also shot, but expected to survive her injuries.
Walters later surrendered to other State Troopers without incident.
In a statement issued early this morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said “the entire New York family grieves today for Trooper Joel Davis.”
Cuomo described Davis’s death as “yet another sad reminder of the risks law enforcement officers face each day in order to protect our communities.”
“I ask all New Yorkers to keep Trooper Davis’ family, loved ones and colleagues in the state police in their prayers,” Cuomo added, describing this as an incredibly difficult time.
The commanding general of Fort Drum, Major General Walter E. Piatt, called Davis “a hero.”
“It takes uncommon valor to run toward acts of terrible violence, to sacrifice for the safety of strangers,” Piatt said. “The deaths of a young mother and this brave officer are a terrible tragedy and we are deeply affected by their loss.”
“I am deeply saddened to learn that New York has lost another brave member of our law enforcement community,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
“This morning, Trooper Joel Davis was shot and killed while responding to a domestic dispute in Jefferson County. I join his family, friends and colleagues in mourning this senseless and tragic loss of life.”
An investigation begins
Justin Walters appeared in court in the Town of LeRay early Monday morning and is due for a second hearing at 5 p.m. ET. He’s been charged with 1st degree murder in the death of Trooper Davis and 2nd degree murder in the death of Nichole Walters.
According to Fort Drum Public Affairs Director Julie Halpin, Justin Walters has been posted at Fort Drum since he joined the Army in 2007. Walters served on two year-long deployments to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2011, receiving nearly a dozen medals and commendations over the course of his military career.
Halpin declined to answer questions about whether Walters had a disciplinary record in the Army. She said those questions will be part of the investigation led by New York State Police, with assistance from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command.
Walters has no record of misdemeanor or felony charges in the state court system.