Suspect identified in murders of Syracuse police officer and Onondaga deputy killed during shootout

SYRACUSE, NY - On Sunday, April 14th, a Syracuse police officer and an Onondaga County Sheriff's Deputy were fatally killed in a shootout in Saline, a suburb of Syracuse. 

On Monday, April 15th, during a news conference, officials released the names of the fallen officers; Syracuse Police Officer Michael E. Jensen and Onondaga County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Michael Hoosock were tragically killed in the line of duty. The suspect, identified as 33-year-old Christopher R. Murphy, of Salina, was also killed. 

According to CBS News, Syracuse Police Chief Joseph Cecile said that at around 7:00 p.m., two Syracuse officers "initiated a traffic stop on a suspicious vehicle" that took off. The officers lost site of the vehicle, but were able to track it to an address in Liverpool via its license plate. A little after 8:00 p.m., Syracuse officers and deputies from the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office went to the address. 

Cecile said that as officers were inspecting the suspicious vehicle, they saw firearms inside of it. Suddenly, at that moment, shots rang out and there "was an exchange of gunfire." Sheriff Toby Shelley said that Hoosock had arrived at the scene on his own to assist in the investigation.

The shooter was standing on a deck in the backyard when he opened fire on Hoosock, who tried to take shelter behind a maple tree.

Jensen was killed after the gunman moved from the backyard to the front part of the house and confronted the Syracuse officers stationed there. As of Monday, April 15th, authorities were still not aware of how many total shots were fired. Shelley said that Murphy was shooting a Springfield AR-15 gun. It is still unclear if he was legally allowed to possess that weapon. 

Investigators are still looking for a motive and it is unclear as to why Murphy ambushed the officers. Cecile said that there was something in Murphy's past which "may be some indicator" as to why he shot the two officers. The police chief did not provide specifics. 

However, Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said that investigators are potentially looking at Murphy's childhood friend, Shawn Kinsella, who was in the house using cocaine with Murphy prior to the murders. "He was inside doing cocaine with a friend ... He told the friend to get out of the house. Something was going to be going down," Fitzpatrick said.

Kinsella was apprehended attempting to jump a fence at the scene, but no charges have been filed against him as of yet.

Murphy's only prior interaction with police was in 2014 when he was arrested for driving under the influence, which also included a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. 

Hoosock has been with the sheriff's office for 16 years. He was promoted to deputy sheriff sergeant in 2015 and in 2021, transferred to the criminal investigations division as a detective sergeant. In 2022, he became the bomb squad commander for the sheriff's office. He also had experience as a firefighter and paramedic. From 2002 to 2007 he volunteered with the Lyncourt Fire Department and has been a volunteer firefighter for the Moyers Corners Fire Department since 2007. Hoosock is survived by his wife and three young children, ages three, five, and seven.

Jensen graduated from the Syracuse Regional Police Academy in August 2022 and had two and a half years on the job. Cecile described him as ambitious and hard working. Syracuse police union president Joe Moran said, "He came to work yesterday with his typical bright smile, ear to ear, and his charming personality. That infectious, charming personality that resonated so well with our members."

Moran added, "An evil demon took him away from us, and Lt. Hoosock from his family and children. There is not a dry eye at the Public Safety Building today, nor the sheriff's headquarters." Cecile said, "We lost two heroes tonight." 

According to ABC News, at a press conference Mayor Ben Walsh said in a statement, "This is a dark day for Syracuse. This is our worst nightmare come true. Our thoughts right now are with the families of those two officers, two heroes, and if anyone knows the family member of a police officer, give them a hug. This is their worst nightmare and we just need to be there for everyone in the law enforcement community today."

The investigation is ongoing and police are in the process of reviewing body camera footage, ballistics and other evidence. The New York State Attorney General's Office will also assist in the investigation. 
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