UTICA, NY – Two New York State corrections officers are dead, another is fighting for his life.
Police say that Chris Conkling, 38, went to a home on Elmhurst Road in Utica, belonging to co-worker Heather Mock, 35, sometime around 12 a.m. Monday.
There, he entered Mock’s home through an unlocked back door. Conkling found Andrew Pruitt, 33, in the residence and shot him in the head.
According to police, Conkling then pointed his gun at Mock’s mother, who ran upstairs to hide and call 911. At that point, Conkling took Mock hostage at gunpoint, forced her into his car, and brought her to his house on Van Rensselar Road.
There was a long standoff between Conkling and police. In the early morning hours, Utica Police made their way into the home and discovered the bodies of Conkling and Mock, both deceased.
It’s been reported that Conkling and Mock were in a previous relationship, having been engaged, but the two had been separated for about a year.
Pruitt is said to be a co-worker of both Conkling and Mock with all three of them being employed as Corrections Officers at Marcy Correctional Facility.
Mock was the mother of two children.
Utica Police say that Pruitt is expected to survive his injuries.
Utica police are continuing the investigation, looking into whether there was a romantic relationship between the victims, Mock and Pruitt. They say the relationship may have been strictly platonic.
WKTV reports that domestic violence experts say whatever was or wasn’t happening between Mock and Pruitt is irrelevant and has no bearing on the violence each faced early Monday morning.
The CEO of Mohawk Valley YWCA, Dianne Stancato, said:
“Heather and the young man that survived, whether they were romantically involved or they were just co-workers, whatever the situation was, just friends, that doesn’t matter. What matters is someone perpetuated violence against them.”
Personally, I cannot imagine what a corrections officer must go through, dealing with the situations that they see on a daily basis.
Conkling is just one of several corrections officers that recently turned to violence.
One month ago, we brought you this story out of Baltimore.
Details have emerged in the shooting of two police officers in Northeast Baltimore. We’ve now learned more about their condition and details surrounding the suspect.
Both officers were assigned to a U.S. Marshals task force.
“Our worst fears became a reality when shots were fired and the two officers were hit,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said.
One officer was released from the hospital Wednesday night.
The other had to undergo emergency surgery for his wounds, and remained at Shock Trauma in serious condition, according to Schock’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Thomas Scalea.
Meanwhile, the gunmen has been identified as a former state corrections officer.
Michael Marullo, of Scranton, PA, was believed to be in Baltimore. He was wanted on multiple charges, to include attempted homicide.
When members of the task force made contact with Marullo, gunfire erupted leaving the two officers wounded and the gunmen dead.
Neighbors reported that they saw a sheet covering what appeared to be a body after seeing a “suspect” was shooting back at officers.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said:
“A former state corrections official who had been under investigation, who left his job, and who then had a warrant outstanding for attempted murder in Pennsylvania last night. And came back to Baltimore and then was involved in the shooting today.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI were on scene conducting investigations.
In October of last year, multiple sources have told LET that a man accused of murdering his own grandmother worked for the department of corrections.
A Connecticut woman was found bludgeoned to death in her Enfield home last month. Now her grandson has been arrested and charged with her murder.
Anthony D. Ward, 35, was taken into custody and is being held on $1 million bail, according to Enfield police.
Ward is accused of killing his grandmother, 79-year-old Frances Battagler, in her Second Avenue home on August 20th after an apparently violent attack involving a hard object, police have said.
Ward’s arrest comes after spending two weeks in the hospital and the Institute of Living psychiatric facility after he crashed Battagler’s car in Wethersfield the day after police found her dead, according to multiple sources familiar with the case.
Police initially went to Battagler’s home late that night to check on Ward.
They found Battagler dead and Battagler’s black Toyota Corolla missing, police said. Ward was not on the premises.
Ward was named a person of interest and police searched for him until the next afternoon, when he was found in Battagler’s crashed car off a road in Wethersfield, officials have said. Fox said at the time that detectives planned to interview him as soon as possible and that “these results will dictate what happens thereafter.”
Further details about Ward’s charges were not immediately available.
It is interesting that he was found in a wrecked car. Part of the reason the police came to check on him was based on another accident he had back in January of 2019.
He was accused of causing a two-car crash and was believed to have been either “unconscious in the driver’s seat” or “purposely (struck) another vehicle in a suicide attempt,” according to the affidavit supporting his arrest.
Ward was charged on March 25th, 2019 with second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, first-degree reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs in connection with the accident.
He was released on $5,000 bond and returned to Enfield court on May 1st.
According to the five-page affidavit supporting Ward’s arrest, written by Officer Zachary Horn, events happened like this:
On January 10th, officers responded to Poquonock Avenue at its intersection with the Interstate 91 entrance ramp northbound at 8:17 p.m. for a motor vehicle crash with injuries.
A Massachusetts-registered Chevrolet Equinox was found in the middle of the intersection, facing south, with major rear end damage. A Toyota Corolla, registered to Battagler, was facing west on the northern intersection, with major damage to the front bumper and engine area.
Ward, who was driving the Toyota, was found unresponsive in the driver’s seat, not wearing his seat belt, and bleeding from his head. He was taken to Hartford Hospital with severe life-threatening injuries.
Kelly Osada, the driver of the Chevrolet, told officers at the scene that while she was stopped at a red light, her vehicle was hit from behind and pushed into the intersection.
She said she suffered a bloody nose from the collision but refused transport to the hospital.
According to the Journal-Inquirer, Osada spoke with a detective and said she remembered “getting thrown forward” and hitting her face on what was most likely the steering wheel.
While she didn’t want to go to a hospital in Hartford, she said she went to Mercy Hospital in Springfield later that night. She said she suffered a broken nose, which required corrective surgery, as well as neck and back pain, headaches, and injuries from an accident two years ago that were exacerbated by this crash.
Prior to the collision, Nicole Mimitz, Ward’s girlfriend, told police she observed Ward take Tylenol before driving to Walmart in East Windsor, where he bought and ingested several pills of Tylenol at the store. He then left Walmart alone in his car, leaving Mimitz at the store.
In the investigation, witnesses told police that Ward didn’t slow down before striking the rear of Osada’s car while it was stopped at a red light.
Multiple blue pills were found on the floor of Ward’s Toyota and an open pill bottle of Tylenol PM was seen lying on the center console of the vehicle. A second open bottle, marked Equate PM, was found on the floor of the front passenger side.
The Tylenol bottle originally contained 150 pills, but only 61 were found on the floor, while the Equate PM bottle initially had 225 pills, but only 48 were in the car at the time of the accident.
Additionally, a small open plastic bottle of vodka was found in Ward’s pants.
Ward’s father, Patrick Ward, told officers Jan. 15 that his son was discharged from Hartford Hospital and moved to the Institute of Living, a residential psychiatric facility in Hartford.
The father told police that his son was moved there because of the quantity of pills in his system and poison control had to be called to the emergency room the night of the accident.
On the day of the collision, Anthony Ward was upset because a relative had been verbally abusive toward him, his father said.
He told police that his son had punched a TV, which angered Mimitz. Patrick Ward told police he believed his son went to Walmart to buy a new TV.
Police concluded that the nature of the collision was “consistent with an operator who may have been unconscious in the driver’s seat or purposely striking another vehicle in a suicide attempt.”
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