Fort Drum Soldier Accused of Shooting Wife, Trooper to Death
THERESA, N.Y. -- The investigation continues into the shooting death of a New York state trooper Sunday night in Jefferson County.
State police say it happened shortly after 8 p.m. at a home on Route 46 in the town of Theresa. State police say 36-year-old Trooper Joel Davis, of Evan Mills, was responding to a call of shots fired during a domestic dispute call at that home, and was approaching the house when he was shot. Davis died shortly before 9:30 p.m. at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown.
The suspect, 32-year-old Justin Walters (pictured at bottom left), surrendered to another responding officer without incident.
Police later found Walters' wife, 27-year-old Nichole Walters, dead in the driveway with multiple gunshot wounds. Fort Drum Public Affairs Office has since confirmed she was a "young mother."
A third victim, Rebecca Finkle, was also shot in the upper torso. She is expected to survive. One of her children was also found at the scene by police, along with one of Nichole Walters' children. Both children are safe and were unharmed.
Justin Walters is an active duty Army infantryman, stationed at Fort Drum. He is facing charges of first and second-degree murder.
Walters was brought to LeRay Town Court for arraignment Monday morning, but court proceedings were put on hold after Walters was unable to answer the judge's questions. Hours later, Walters was paraded in wearing an orange jumpsuit, where he waived his preliminary hearing. He will be held without bail while awaiting the grand jury.
Walters faces life in prison if convicted.
Authorities still have not confirmed what type of weapon he was armed with at the time of the shooting, but they say a number of weapons were found in the home.
State police say Davis was wearing his bullet-proof vest, but that the shot hit through the side and killed him.
Davis was a four-year veteran of the state police, but has been in law enforcement for around 15 years, previously working for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Fort Drum Public Affairs says Walters is from Michigan. He is a staff sergeant in the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Brigade, with 10 years at Fort Drum. He was deployed to Afghanistan once in 2009 for a year, and again in 2011 for another 12 months. He was decorated on multiple occasions in the Army.
Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division Senior Commander Major General Walter Piatt released a statement saying:"Trooper Davis is a hero. It takes an uncommon valor to run toward acts of terrible violence, to sacrifice for the safety of strangers. The deaths of a young mother and this brave officer are a terrible tragedy and we are deeply affected by their loss."
Governor Andrew Cuomo is also ordering flags on all state government buildings be flown at half-staff in honor of Trooper Davis.
State police say that it only took responding officers two to three minutes to arrive at the scene following the shooting. They say this was the fourth officer either killed in the line of duty or from a 9/11-related illness in the last year for New York state.