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Rochester, N.Y. --- Last Thursday the apprehension of Ralph Strong Jr., the suspected gunman in a double homicide days earlier, ended in a gun battle with police.
Rochester Police Sergeant Sergis now at home recovering from multiple gunshot wounds. Gene McDougal, a Henrietta man in his car at the intersection of Goodman and Norton Streets remains in the hospital recovering from injuries suffered when a bullet penetrated his car door. Strong is also in the hospital recovering from five gunshot wounds; he remains in police custody while there.
In a briefing on Friday Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard explained that officers first engaged Strong during an attempted traffic stop. Strong fled that attempted stop and was located again in the 1700 block of Goodman Street where a foot pursuit and shootout ensued.
13WHAM News asked Sheppard in that Friday briefing if there were "discussions of a more tactical takedown of this suspect given that he was wanted for two homicides?"
"Always," Chief Sheppard responded. "Anytime we want to engage someone we want to have a tactical plan put together, sometimes the circumstances will arise where - poof, there they are, you have to deal with it."
A follow-up question asked, "And when you see him the best thing is to just take him down right there?"
"Under the circumstances of who he was, what he had done, the level of violence that he had demonstrated they felt that it was the correct decision to take matters under control and make their arrest," Chief Sheppard replied.
On Tuesday 13WHAM News again asked the chief if he felt appropriate resources were deployed in the apprehension of Strong.
"I think in terms of doing our job every vehicle stop we do is potential for danger and I think we would love to be in a scenario where we can dictate the outcome but the reality is what we do is respond to what the suspect does," said Sheppard. "And whether it's a routine traffic stop, whether it's a high profile traffic stop that is what we're trained to do and so in this circumstance we could've had all the plans in place that would've dictated a different outcome but the fact of the matter is our actions were dictated by his actions."
Locust Club Union President Mike Mazzeo tells 13WHAM News he is still looking to learn more about the incident. He also said that Strong, in his opinion, was as dangerous a target as his officers will encounter.