ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A man has been charged in the shooting death of a police officer in Rochester, New York, authorities said Friday.
Another officer was wounded late Thursday in what police described as an ambush. A 15-year-old girl in a nearby house was also shot and wounded.
The slain officer, Anthony Mazurkiewicz, a 29-year member of the department, was in a parked vehicle with Officer Sino Seng when 17 rounds were fired into the vehicle from behind, Rochester Police Capt. Frank Umbrino said at a Friday news conference. The two were part of the department’s plainclothes tactical unit and were investigating a murder.
Umbrino said police found Kelvin Vickers, 21, hiding in the crawl space of a vacant house near the scene about an hour after the shooting, as well as a loaded 9 mm handgun. Umbrino said preliminary testing determined that the gun had been used in the shooting.
Vickers was charged with second-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and weapons counts.
The department’s chief, David Smith, called the shooting “a cowardly ambush” at a briefing earlier Friday.
Vickers is from the Boston, Massachusetts area and has an “extensive criminal background,” Umbrino said. He declined to elaborate, or to comment on why Vickers was in Rochester.
Seng, after being struck in the lower body, got out of the vehicle and fired at the shooter, who was not hit. Seng was treated at a hospital and released. The girl, who was struck by a bullet that penetrated a wall, was recovering, authorities said.
The officers were shot the same day that Mayor Malik Evans declared a “gun violence state of emergency” after a recent spate of shootings in Rochester, a city of about 200,000 on the shores of Lake Ontario.
“Tony Mazurkiewicz could have easily retired, but he chose to continue going on the streets because he didn’t want folks in our neighborhoods to be held hostage by the very cowards that are wreaking havoc in our community,” Evans said in a written statement Friday.
“Not only am I sad for the Mazurkiewicz family — and we pray for the speedy recovery of Sino Seng — I am angry. And upset. Because all too often, we are seeing a blatant disregard for life,” he said.
Evans said the city had, before Mazurkiewicz’s death, recorded 41 homicides this year and more than 200 people had been shot. The homicide count was one less than at the same time the previous year. The mayor said recent shootings were “directly tied to a deadly cycle of disputes and retaliations.”
In November 2021, the mayor at the time, Lovely Warren, declared a similar state of emergency to combat violence. The move clears the way for expanded resources and partnerships with other law enforcement agencies.
“Yesterday morning, at 11 am, I was asked by the media, ‘How dangerous is it out there for the officers of the Rochester Police Department?’” Smith wrote in a statement Friday. “My response was that every day, the men and women of this department leave home, not knowing if they are going to return home at the end of their shift.”