By BEN DOBBIN
Associated Press Writer
BIG FLATS, N.Y. -- A New York state trooper was shot and killed Wednesday while authorities were investigating an armed robbery at a bank in this rural western New York village, police said.
The trooper was killed about 90 minutes after a robbery at noon in Big Flats, which lies midway between Corning and Elmira above the Pennsylvania state line.
Details of the killing and its aftermath were still sketchy, said state police Lt. Glenn Miner. He did not give further details.
State police said Wednesday night they were hunting a 1997-model Ford Taurus with New York license plates. The trooper was killed a few miles from the village.
The victim, who was not immediately identified, was the 23rd trooper felled by gunfire since the New York State Police was formed in 1917.
"Our prayers are with his family," Gov. George Pataki said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "We'll do everything we can to apprehend the perpetrator of this heinous crime."
Police and the FBI were investigating a bank robbery at the Chemung Canal Trust Co. in Big Flats. Bank president Jan Updegraff said no one was injured during the robbery. He declined to say how much money was taken or how many robbers there were while the investigation was continuing.
About 20 police units were mobilized in the area of Big Flats next to Interstate 86. All schools in the Horseheads and Elmira Heights School District were locked down, and parents were told to pick up their children and sign them out at the end of the school day.
The shooting occurred two days after a Town of New Hartford police officer near Utica was shot and killed while chasing a robbery suspect.
The last state trooper killed in the line of duty was Lawrence Gleason, who was shot in the back in February 2002 by a suicidal gunman in the Adirondack hamlet of Crown Point.
In all, 112 state troopers have been killed on duty since the New York State Police was founded, six while on military service in World War II.