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MAP: AT&T Store Shooting43.1002244 -75.3006690
Shooter with hit-list shot dead in AT&T store
NEW YORK MILLS, N.Y. (WKTV) - Abraham Dickan, 79, of Utica, was angry with the employees at AT&T in New York Mills - anger that he had shown them many times before, but never in the way he did on Thursday, May 27.
Shortly before 1 p.m. on that Thursday afternoon, Dickan walked into the cellular phone store on Commercial Drive, with a .357 magnum in his hand, and a list in his pocket containing the six names of the AT&T store employees to which he was holding such deep anger, and planned to kill as a result.
"The suspect had no prior history," said Lt. Troy Little of the New York State Police.
That man with no prior criminal record walked into the store and shot Seth Turk, a store employee who was doing no more than working at a computer at his job. Authorities believe Dickan could have been even more successful with his list of six victims, if not for the instantaneous actions of Rome Police Officer Donald J. Moore, who was off-duty, but in the store as a customer at the time of the shooting.
"He heard and sees the gun, draws his weapon, and fired," Lt. Little said of Officer Moore's reaction.
Officer Moore was carrying his own .40 caliber handgun.
"It's his own personal choice," said Moore's boss, Rome Police Chief Kevin Beach. "We do encourage our officers to carry off-duty."
"Due to the actions of Officer Moore, Dickan was only able to fire at Mr. Turk," Lt. Little said.
Dickan was killed at the scene, and Turk was injured, sent to St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica for surgery, where he remained Thursday evening in critical condition.
It wasn't the first time that Dickan had been in the AT&T store and given the staff trouble. Authorities said that he had been in the store numerous times in the past, even brandishing a handgun to employees. Those actions resulted in police reports being filed by the employees of the store, and Dickan losing his pistol permit for that gun. However, authorities said the gun in which he used in Thursday's shooting was a new gun - one he did not have a permit for. Lt. Little said that Dickan had been upset from the prior incidents with employees in the store, re-affirmed by the letter found on his person by authorities that expressed his anger, along with the names of the six employees he intended to kill.
State Police said that no court order of protection had been filed against Dickan, but the store had "banned" him, requesting that he not return to the premises.
The handful of fellow people in the store - customers and employees - fled the scene to the outside, as well as to the neighboring Harley-Davidson Store for refuge. State Police said they were unable to pinpoint where the original 911 call came from, because of the high number of calls from employees, customers, and passers-by.
Those calls were responded to by a flurry of law enforcement agencies, with at least 26 police cars on the scene shortly after the shooting, as well as emergency vehicles and ambulances. Those agencies included, but were not limited to New York State Police, New York Mills Police Department, Rome Police Department, Oneida County Sheriff's Department, Whitestown Police, and Edwards Ambulance.
State Police, the lead agency on the investigation, said that they hope to speak with Turk once he recovers from the surgery, as he would be the only one in close enough proximity to have taken part in any verbal exchange with Dickan before the shooting.
The mental state of Dickan at the time of the incident is certainly something that authorities are questioning. However, they said they will require additional information before they can make a solid judgment as to his state at the time.
"We're going to have to do more investigating to find out the mental capacity of Mr. Dickan, what made him go out and about, brandishing a gun in the past," Lt. Little said. "At this point, we do not know what his mental health history was and is something we have to look into."
Lt. Little said that they still have numerous people to talk to in the course of their investigation, including anyone who may have been in contact with Dickan as they try to piece together what led him into that store with his list and gun.
In the meantime, authorities said they will be providing counseling to those in the store and connected to the incident who had to experience such a trauma.
"We've been in touch with people," Lt. Little said. "And with these type of incidents, emotions are all over the place right now. It's tough to say how anyone's doing right now."
As for Officer Moore, Rome Police Chief Beach said the officer will be taking the weekend off.
"I think there's a lot of emotions going on," Chief Beach said. "To take somebody's life has got to be a traumatic experience. But he also has to realize he saved lives."
"He's a hero," Chief Beach said. "I don't think there's any other way to describe it."