The man police say fatally shot a UPS driver in a Walmart parking lot early Thursday before leading officers on a short chase and barricading himself in a residence for more than five hours is in custody, Ithaca Police said.
The suspect, who allegedly killed the 52-year-old delivery man and later fired at officers, was taken into custody at 9:50 a.m., Officer Jamie Williamson said.
Police said the suspect’s vehicle was spotted heading north on Route 13 shortly after the crime. When officers attempted to stop the driver, he continued driving, turned into a driveway and fired a shot at police with “a long gun” as he exited the vehicle. Police did not return fire and were uninjured.
The man then barricaded himself inside a building “believed to be his residence” on the 1200 block of Dryden Road, Williamson said.
The standoff, which began before 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, ended more than five hours later with the suspect in custody. Police are expected to release more information at an 11 a.m. press conference.
Witnesses told The Sun that the victim, white and wearing a UPS uniform, had purchased a pack of cigarettes from Walmart before walking to the parking lot, where he was shot and driven over by a man in a black truck, who then peeled out of the Walmart parking lot onto Route 13.
“A guy was sitting in his truck, and all I heard was a gunshot and looked up, saw the guy fall, and then the guy in the truck backed up, pulled out, ran him over and took off,” said John Thorna, of Newfield.
Thorna, who police identified as a witness, said he was standing by his sedan’s trunk, scratching the seal off of a phone card in the Walmart parking lot when he heard a single gunshot. Moments before, Thorna said, the victim had been behind him in the checkout line.
Thorna added that he didn’t hear an argument and only looked up when he heard the gunshot, seeing the man fall to the ground, about 200 feet from the supermarket.
Linda Kemp, 68, told The Sun she was in line at Walmart behind Thorna and the man in the UPS uniform — the only three people checking out at the time. The man in the uniform bought a pack of Marlboros and said he worked 13-hour days, Kemp said, adding that she saw a UPS truck parked in the lot after the shooting.
The victim was “walking out of the store and the other guy seemed like he was in the truck waiting for him,” Thorna said.
Officers and medics responded to the parking lot at 12:52 a.m., Ithaca Police Chief John Barber said. Bangs medics performed CPR on the victim before officers covered him in a white sheet and began taking pictures of the crime scene.
Later Thursday morning, Barber said that the barricaded residence was “contained by tactical teams,” who had not been able to reach the suspect. The victim lived in the region but was not a resident of Tompkins County, Williamson said.
A Walmart employee said the store has surveillance cameras that cover the area of the alleged shooting and that managers were in the process of reviewing the tapes.
“I’ve worked here 11 years and I’ve never seen anything like that,” the employee said of the crime scene.
Portions of Route 366 were closed as the negotiations carried on into Thursday morning work hours.
Local police, including Cornell officers, as well as a SWAT team and New York State Police were at the barricaded residence and evacuated the area. Some of the evacuees were placed in hotels in the Ithaca-area, Williamson said. County officials said that TCAT buses and the Dryden and Ithaca school districts were notified of the active scene.