Saturday, July 21, 2012

Officials: Police officer mistakenly kills son at Old Forge hotel - Utica, NY - The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York

Officials: Police officer mistakenly kills son at Old Forge hotel - Utica, NY - The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York


It was early Saturday morning when Old Forge Ambulance paramedic Dan Rivet Jr. received an EMS call he thought he’d never would.

A shooting was reported at his business — Clarks Beach Motel — right in the center of the Old Forge business district.

“I thought, oh boy, what could this be?” he said. “We have very little violence in Old Forge.”

State police would later say that Michael Leach, 59, of Rochester, who is employed as a village police officer in Perry, Wyoming County, thought his son Matthew S. Leach, 37 of Rochester, was an intruder when he shot him at about 12:50 a.m. inside Clarks Beach Motel.

The shooting took place in Room 6, Rivet said, which is located on the waterfront in the business district on Route 28.

The weapon used was the officer’s department-issued .45-caliber Glock handgun, police said.

Michael Leach called 911 following the shooting, stating he believed he shot an intruder, police said. Webb police then responded.

Details about how the shooting unfolded are not yet available, police Capt. Francis Coots of Troop D said.

“That’s still yet to be determined,” he said.

Rivet said when he arrived on the scene the father was “very distraught.”

At first paramedics could not find an entry wound, Rivet said, but later it was located in the right back area.

Oswego resident Robert Hilton said he didn’t hear anything from his Clarks Beach Motel, located toward the back of the property, but upon learning of the news was shocked.

“It’s unexplainable, it’s tragic,” he said. “It sounds surreal to me that something like that could happen in Old Forge.”

Hilton said he comes up with family at least once a year to the area to take long weekends.

“It’s beautiful up here,” he said, adding it’s the first time he’s stayed at the motel.

Michael Leach was taken by ambulance to Faxton St Luke’s Healthcare, St. Luke’s campus, where he remains for a medical issue, police said.

His son was taken to St. Elizabeth Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy is expected to be performed Sunday, Coots said.

Rivet said the father and son were part of a group of police who drive to the area on motorcycles for a long-weekend getaway.

“It was just a group of guys coming to have a good time,” he said. “We never had a problem with them.”
The investigation is continuing in conjunction with Acting Herkimer County District Attorney Jeff Carpenter.

Coots said more details involving the investigation may be available Monday.

The village of Perry Police Department consists of five full time officers, nine part-time officers, a civilian secretary and a chief, according to the department’s website.

It is Herkimer County’s first homicide of the year.

When Old Forge Ambulance paramedic Dan Rivet Jr. first arrived at a reported shooting scene at his Old Forge motel, he wasn’t sure the victim had even been shot.

“There was very little blood on the scene,” said Rivet, owner of Clarks Beach Motel.

What Rivet said he found was a distraught man in Room 6, and a victim lying on the floor with a gunshot wound.

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