Police officers killed in Syracuse shooting identified

Two officers slain in a shootout at a Syracuse area home late Sunday were identified by law enforcement at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Syracuse Police officer Michael Jensen and Onondaga Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Michael Hoosock were killed Sunday during a shootout with the shooting suspect, Christopher Murphy.

"We lost two heroes last night — two men who raised their hands to protect and serve our communities," said Syracuse Police Chief Joseph Cecile.

Jensen had been on the Syracuse Police force for a little over two years, Cecile said — "you could tell he took his responsibility seriously," he added.

Cecile noted that the Syracuse Police ranks are feeling sadness, loss and anger.

"We'll get through it as we always have — as a family," Cecile said, adding he struggled to find words to console Jensen's parents and sister earlier in the day.

Hoosock — who leaves behind his wife and their three children, ages 3, 5 and 7 — was the bomb squad commander for the Sheriff's Office, had experience as an EMT and was "a pillar of his community," Onondaga County Sheriff Tobias Shelley said. "You will never find anyone who has a bad word to say about Lieutenant Hoosock."

Syracuse Police Chief Joseph Cecile, at the podium, speaks at a news conference on Monday, April 15, 2024, regarding the shooting deaths of two Syracuse-area officers in a shootout late Sunday.
Syracuse Police Chief Joseph Cecile, at the podium, speaks at a news conference on Monday, April 15, 2024, regarding the shooting deaths of two Syracuse-area officers in a shootout late Sunday.

What other information was released about the incident?

On Sunday, two Syracuse Police officers attempted to pull over a vehicle near the intersection of Emerson Avenue and Hamilton Street, on the city's west side. The vehicle drove away, and afterwards it was determined that the vehicle was associated with a gun of some type, Cecile noted, and "the alert was heightened at that point."

The officers got the license plate number and traced the car to a residential address in Salina, a city suburb, on Darien Drive.

Murphy, 33, and a friend had been inside the home before police arrived, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said earlier on Monday. They had used cocaine and Murphy began acting erratically, grabbed a long gun or rifle and told the friend to leave, which he did, out the rear of the home, Fitzpatrick said, citing what the friend later told authorities.

Around that same time, multiple officers, including Onondaga County Sheriff's Deputy Hoosock, arrived on the scene. The friend, who was trying to climb over a backyard fence around the home, was appended, and soon a gunfight ensued with Murphy, who allegedly fired on officers from several spots around the home. Police returned fire.

Hoosock and Jensen were killed, as was Murphy. Hoosock was hit by gunfire in an adjacent yard to the east, while Murphy was firing off the deck, Shelley said, describing the shooting of Hoosock as an "ambush." Murphy then ran to the front of the house, where Jensen was then shot.

Shelley described the amount of shots fired at the scene as "too many to count" at this point in the investigation. He declined to comment on Fitzpatrick's description of the incident, including the alleged drug use.

The investigation into exactly how and why Murphy engaged with the deputy and police is ongoing, authorities said. Cecile noted that there is "something in (Murphy's) past that may be some indicator as to why he did it," but declined to say what. It is not mental-health related, he added.

"There's nothing routine out there for law enforcement," he said. "At any given moment, some routine call could take their lives."

The firearm was a Springfield AR-15, police said, and the legality and ownership details of the gun remains under review, Fitzpatrick said earlier.

More than 30 police officers, firefighters and other law enforcement gathered at the media briefing Monday afternoon, wearing black bands over their badges to honor their fallen colleagues.

Many of the men and women — in uniforms and street clothes — greeted each other with hugs and brief solemn exchanges. They settled into a line behind the journalists, standing silently underneath the neon glow of blue lights inside the cavernous Oncenter convention space. The discreet wiping of tears from eyes and occasional sounds of sniffles offered the only hint at the emotional trauma gripping the emergency responders.

During the briefing, officials described Jensen as an ambitious young officer with an "infectiously charming" personality who lived in and worked hard to protect his beloved community, the city of Syracuse.

Hoosock's celebrated 17-year career with the sheriff's office included a medal of valor in 2020, when he apprehended a suspect in a double shooting, Shelley said, adding Hoosock had just been promoted to lieutenant last June.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Officers Michael Jensen, Michael Hoosock killed in Syracuse shootout