COXSACKIE, NY — From the moment one enters Coxsackie, the signs of mourning are everywhere. From the electronic street signs that point the direction to Trooper David Brinkerhoff's wake, to the American and State Police flags that hang from a railroad bridge, it is easy to see the town is in mourning.
Outside W.C. Brady's and Sons Funeral Home, mourners formed a long line to pay their respects to the trooper killed in the line of duty Wednesday.
Brinkerhoff was one of the troopers on the State Police's Mobile Response Team who raided a Margaretville farmhouse Wednesday to capture a man police say had already shot one state trooper.
Brinkerhoff was hit by one shot fired by suspect Travis Trim, police said, but was accidentally killed by a bullet fired by a fellow trooper returning fire.
JoAnn Conway, a real-estate agent who sold Brinkerhoff and his wife, Barbara, their house, said he had recently called to say he was looking to upgrade and was looking for vacant land. He and his wife had had a baby, Isabella.
When she learned of his death, Conway and Billy Sulkey, a local mortgage broker, decided to line the route to the funeral home with American flags. The flags were donated by the Flach family.
"I just felt like I needed to do something for the family. He was a great guy. Even the kids, the teenagers liked him," Conway said. "You try to do something to make it better in some small way."
Town Supervisor Alex Betke stopped at the wake.
"The town is grieving. We lost someone who was part of our community," he said. "He was someone who did everything from teaching kids to ride bikes to car-seat checks. Our community is at a great loss right now."
The outpouring of support showed how beloved Brinkerhoff was, Betke said.
"It just goes to show how welcome Dave was among his co-workers, his brothers and sisters in law enforcement. He was just a great guy," he said. "What I'll remember most is his smiling face. He always had a smile, always was waving. He's going to leave his mark on this town for years to come."
State Police Capt. Patrick Regan, zone commander for Troop F, said Brinkerhoff's death is hitting his colleagues hard. Brinkerhoff was assigned to the troop when not working with the Mobile Response Team.
"David was a very pleasant person, the type of person who attracts people," he said.
Acting State Police Superintendent Preston Felton said in an interview Monday that the men who fired at Trim were acting according to plan. He wouldn't say if his agency has identified who fired the shot that killed Trooper Brinkerhoff.
"From everything I have seen at this point, I see nothing that would lead me to believe they've done anything inappropriate," Felton said. "We will look at it. If there is something wrong we can improve or make better, we will do that."
Regan said he did not know which trooper fired the fatal shot. And while that fact will be difficult to handle for the trooper, he said, no one should doubt who is responsible for Brinkerhoff's death.
"Trooper Brinkerhoff is gone because of the actions of Travis Trim," he said.
Trim's body was found inside the farmhouse, slumped in a doorway. The farmhouse burned after police fired tear gas into the home.
Felton said the seven specially trained troopers entered the Margaretville farmhouse where Brinkerhoff was shot as part of a routine check of a home whose alarm was tripped.
"Our members approached the building ... and decided let's sweep this building just to make sure so we can move on and go continue the search for this subject. This was not a situation where we knew he was in the building or even thought he was in the building," Felton said.
Then they were fired upon.
In response, he said tear gas was fired into the building.
"We knew the suspect was still in the building," Felton said. He said hostage negotiators and others tried to communicate with the gunman before gassing the building, which erupted in flames.
At the wake on Monday, Col. Peter Fanelli, assistant director of law enforcement for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said he came to pay tribute to a fellow officer, although he did not know Brinkerhoff personally.
"When a police officer falls like this, we all suffer," he said. "I had officers who were there helping at that incident at that farmhouse. That could have happened to any of them."
The wake continues from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. today at the funeral home at 97 Mansion St. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 85 Elm Avenue, Delmar.
O'Brien can be reached at 454-5092 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Staff writer Jim Odato contributed to this report.
The funeral for Trooper David C. Brinkerhoff will be Wednesday at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Below is a list of the services.
Viewing: 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today, W.C. Brady's Sons Funeral Home, Mansion Street, Coxsackie
Burial: Immediately following the funeral, at St. Mary's Cemetery, Route 385, just outside of the village of Coxsackie How to help
At least three funds are accepting donations:
The New York State Trooper Foundation established a trust fund for Brinkerhoff's infant daughter. Make donations at any Trustco branch or mail checks to the Isabella Grace Brinkerhoff Trust, Trooper Foundation, 3 Airport Park Blvd., Latham, NY 12110. For information, call 785-1002 or go to http://www.nystrooperfoundation.org.
State Police in Catskill set up an account for the family. Donate through any branch of the Bank of Greene County or make checks to the Brinkerhoff Family, Bank of Greene County, Attn: Brinkerhoff Family Account, Box 470, Catskill, NY 12414.
The State Police PBA accepts donations for the Signal 30 Fund for troopers' families in emergencies. Donors can specify who they want their money to help. More information is available online at http://www.nystpba.org.