EDINBURG, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Justified, that’s how the Saratoga County Sheriff describes an officer involved shooting that ended with a local homeowner dead.
Sheriff Michael Zurlo defended the officers’ actions during a press conference Tuesday.
Sheriff Zurlo says the homeowner in this case was armed and aimed his firearm toward the officers, and that’s why the shooting was justified.
During a press conference with the New York State Police and the Saratoga County District Attorney, Sheriff Zurlo said what ended as a fatal shooting began with a 911 call late Monday night.
That call came from 51-year-old Richard LaPort, the sole resident of a home on Foxhill Road.
“Members of sheriff’s office and the New York State Police responded, and upon their arrival were met with gunfire from within the residence,” Sheriff Zurlo said. “Members of the sheriff’s department attempted to negotiate with LaPort as he repeatedly entered and exited the residence carrying the long gun and on several occasions discharging the weapon.”
The sheriff says the officers created a perimeter around the remote home tucked behind a travel trailer. They watched and waited.
It was getting close to midnight when Sheriff Zurlo says things went bad.
“LaPort exited the residence onto the front porch and leveled the long gun to members of the sheriff’s office and New York State Police who were positioned in front of the residence,” he said. “Two members of the sheriff’s office and one state trooper fired upon LaPort striking him at least once in the torso.”
LaPort was declared dead on scene. An autopsy determined he died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the chest as the result of suicide by police.
But, Zurlo says the decision to fire was forced upon them.
One witness to the shooting was LaPort’s daughter.
“That was a horrible thing,” a longtime family friend said. “I wouldn’t want anyone to go through that.”
But she added that it was justified.
“He was out of control,” she said. “He was out of hand.”
NEWS10 spoke off camera with the family of Richard LaPort. They say he had a serious alcohol problem that got worse after his father died in a work related accident.
The officers who shot him are on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the NYSP and sheriff’s office.