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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The suspected shooter in Wednesday night's fatal shooting of a Rochester police officer was recently released from prison, police sources confirmed Thursday.

Recent parolee Thomas Johnson III was shot and wounded Wednesday night and underwent surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital overnight. He was listed in guarded condition Thursday morning, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

At a police briefing Thursday morning, Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli identified the slain officer as Daryl Pierson, an eight-year veteran of the force and a father of two young children.

Pierson, he said, was shot while pursuing a man Wednesday night. His partner Officer Michael DiPaola, 41, shot, wounded and apprehended the shooter, he said. Both men were part of the the department's tactical unit.

Several other officers carried a gravely injured Pierson to a car "and got him to Rochester General," Ciminelli said. Doctors worked with "absolute fury" and "tried to pull off a miracle which was not to be."

Another briefing to discuss details of the case is scheduled for the afternoon with Ciminelli and Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. Ciminelli did not confirm the name of the suspected shooter.

Johnson was released from Wyoming Correctional Facility in Wyoming County in August after serving a year for violating parole. He'd previously served three years for an attempted robbery, although he was originally charged with second-degree robbery after he was accused of robbing a 64-year-old man in October 2010.

According to court records, the victim alleged Johnson "grabbed me from behind and put his arm around my neck." The man tried to break free, but Johnson told him he had a gun.

The victim tossed his wallet on the street, tried to negotiate with Johnson, then scuffled with him, records say. Johnson ran off with the wallet, the victim said.

Police arrested Johnson after he dropped the wallet while being chased.

Johnson also previously served a year in local jail for second-degree criminal trespass. In April 2009, a Rochester police officer tried to stop Johnson for allegedly drinking a 24-ounce beer in public, court records show.

Johnson pulled out what the officer said was "a silver/black object that appeared to be a revolver" then ran. The officer chased him for several blocks then lost him.

Johnson was later arrested after identified by the officer from a photo array.

He also spent more than 2 years in prison in Florida, between November 2003 and March 2006 following a felony weapons conviction out of Broward County, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

Ciminelli at a news conference early Thursday said the fallen officer "made the ultimate sacrifice protecting the people of Rochester."

He said late Thursday morning that an outpouring of love and support from the community has helped the 732-member department cope with the sudden loss.

A bystander also was hit by gunfire, and suffered injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening, Ciminelli said. Officers remained at the scene overnight to investigate.

Wednesday's fatal shooting was the first time a Rochester police officer has been killed in the line of duty since 1959, when Patrolman Harold V. Shaw, 36, was shot during a burglary.


Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn released a statement on behalf of the sheriff's office:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the officer, his family and all of the members of the Rochester Police Department," he said.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who spoke at both the early-morning and midday news conferences said:

"A family has lost a loved one, RPD lost a family member and Rochester lost someone who put his life on the line for us everyday."

"There are few incidents that can change the course of a city and I am praying this one pulls us together - that we stand united in seeking justice...and showing compassion to the men and women in our police department."

Contributing: Will Cleveland



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Suspected cop shooter's criminal history emerges

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