Police identify officer slain by gunman in NY
John Falcone, an 18-year veteran, was killed during struggle with gunman who killed wife
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — A man who killed his wife and then fatally wounded a Poughkeepsie police officer was killed with his own gun during a struggle with police, authorities said Saturday.
Poughkeepsie police identified the shooter as Lee Welch, 27, of Catskill. They said he was the only one who fired during a brief frenzy of violence midday Friday near the small city's train station.
The fatally wounded patrolman was John Falcone, an 18-year veteran of the force. Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik called Falcone "a great man and a great officer." He was 44, and worked as a patrolman.
A wake for the officer is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at the Cargain Funeral Home in Carmel, police said. A funeral will follow Thursday at St. James the Apostle Church, also in Carmel.
Police Chief Ron Knapp said at a news conference that Falcone was among a group of officers who chased Welch after he shot and killed his 28-year-old wife in a car.
There was a "close struggle" and Welch fired at least twice, hitting Falcone in the head with one of the shots, Knapp said. Welch was then tackled by a second officer, who dislocated his shoulder while "bringing him down."
At some point in the fight, Welch was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot, Knapp said. "None of the police officers at the scene discharged their weapons," he said.
Investigators were still gathering information on what prompted the killings. But they said Welch was recently estranged from his wife, Jessica, following bouts of domestic violence.
He was arrested in Green County on an assault charge on Jan. 28, bailed out of jail, and then arrested again three days later on a charge of criminal contempt.
"Family members felt that the victim was in danger and convinced her to relocate to Mount Vernon, near them. She did that two weeks ago," Knapp said.
The couple had arranged to meet on neutral ground in Poughkeepsie, nestled along the Hudson River, to exchange a car. Jessica Welch needed it to drive their three children around. The police chief said investigators believe she arrived by train from White Plains, and her husband killed her during the 1 p.m. rendezvous.
Officers responding to reports of gunfire saw Welch leaving the scene with a child in his arms, later identified as the couple's 3-year-old daughter. Details of what happened next are still unclear, but at some point, officers took the toddler away from Welch and handed the child to a bystander before the final struggle.
It all happened in just a few minutes, authorities said.
The 3-year-old is now staying with relatives, police said.