A Monday night robbery of an upstate New York jewelry store has resulted in the fatal shooting of a local police officer and the shooting death of one of the robbery and murder suspects following a car jacking and two-state manhunt, according to media reports. Approximately $1 million in merchandise was stolen, but all of it was reportedly recovered.
Walter R. Richardson, 36, spotted near Allentown, Pa., earlier in the day, was killed Tuesday night in an exchange of gunfire with U.S. marshals in Chester, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, the Associated Press reports. Authorities said Richardson had barricaded himself in a house.
A marshal shot in the exchange was not seriously injured and was treated at the scene, according to media reports. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
Joseph Corr, 30, a six-year veteran of the New Hartford Town Police Department in New York was shot and killed Monday night while pursuing Richardson and John Healy, suspected jewel thieves, according to media reports. Police had said Richardson was the triggerman in Corr’s shooting.
Another suspect in the robbery and murder, John Healy of New York City, was captured by police following a foot chase, according to the Observer-Dispatch newspaper of Utica, N.Y. Police have charged Healy with second-degree murder. Richardson faced a charge of first-degree murder in the killing of an officer in the line of duty, according to media reports.
Police are also looking for one or two other suspects in the robbery, the Observer-Dispatch reports. Authorities have also said that the suspects might be part of the group that federal investigators say might be responsible for several jewelry heists, according to media reports.
It all began Monday night shortly before 8:30 p.m. at the Lennon’s-W.B. Wilcox jewelry store in New Hartford, N.Y., just outside of Utica and about 60 miles east of Syracuse.
The store was scheduled to close in about 30 minutes when police said the suspects bound store employees, disabled video surveillance equipment in the store, and made off with about $1 million in watches, loose diamonds, and other items, New Hartford Town police chief Raymond Philo said at a press conference on Wednesday according to the Observer-Dispatch. Police previously were reported as saying that all the stolen jewels had been recovered.
The robbery was “well-executed, well-planned” and probably involved some advance surveillance of the store by the robbers, Philo reportedly said at the press conference.
Philo also said Wednesday that police believe three or four people were involved in the robbery, although police did not release any details on the other suspects, the newspaper reports.
Police previously said they arrived on the scene as one suspect was fleeing the store and climbed into a blue Buick sedan, the newspaper reports. A New Hartford police officer arrived and positioned his car to stop them.
Richardson and Healy evaded that vehicle, police reportedly said. About that time, Corr arrived and followed the suspects in a high-speed pursuit, according to police.
The chase ended about three miles later when the suspects crashed into a gas pump at a local business. By that time, additional officers from Kirkland and New Hartford were converging on the scene, the newspaper reported police saying.
Three police officers pursued Healy. Corr went after Richardson alone, police reportedly said. Richardson escaped after fatally shooting Corr in the neck.
Richardson then, according to police and media reports, hijacked a tow truck and took it and its driver to an exit near Allentown, Pa., where he let the driver go free. The Utica newspaper reported that the truck belonged to Kirkland Automotive.
During the ride, Richardson had taken the truck driver’s cell phone and pager, the owner of the company told the newspaper. The driver (who was not identified) called the owner on a payphone inside a gas station at about 5 a.m. saying he was safe.
Around 9:30 a.m., a SWAT team entered a house in the Philadelphia suburb of Upper Darby but no one was there, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, where Richardson was believed to have lived. Police reportedly found food they believe had been recently prepared, a man’s coat, and two television sets.
At about 10:30 p.m., the newspaper reported that an exchange of gunfire took place between a man holed up at a house in Chester and officers from the U.S. Marshals Office, State Police, Chester Police, and Delaware County detectives.
Half an hour later, authorities reported that the suspect was dead.