A tractor-trailer driver was shot and killed Wednesday night after leading multiple police agencies on a zig-zagging chase across three counties in which shots were exchanged several times and multiple law enforcement vehicles damaged.
The pursuit, which began in Le Roy around 8:30 p.m., ended just before 10 p.m. when the westbound tractor-trailer drove off Route 20A in Geneseo into a field east of Applebees and Genesee Valley Plaza.
During the pursuit, which included multiple U-turns and traveled through parts of Batavia, Pavilion, Route 63 across Wyoming County, Piffard, Geneseo and Interstate 390, multiple police vehicles were struck – both by the tractor-trailer and bullets.
“He was purposefully trying to hurt cops tonight, and ultimately, this is how it ended,” Livingston County Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty said during a media briefing late Wednesday night near the scene.
The driver’s name was not released. Dougherty said the investigation would look at where the driver was from, what he was doing and “what led to this moment.”
“This is not a common thing,” Dougherty said. “Certainly in my time in police work, this is something I’ve never seen before.”
No deputies or civilians were reported injured during the incident, said Dougherty, but there were, he said, “some very, very close calls.”
A couple of Livingston County Sheriff’s vehicles were struck by bullets, including one that hit the vehicle very close to a deputy involved in the chase, Dougherty said.
Patrol vehicles for the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office and Le Roy Police Department sustained damage.
The windshield of a Genesee County Sheriff’s patrol vehicle was struck by a bullet, according to Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron.
Dougherty would not say if the truck driver was specifically shot by law enforcement pending further investigation.
“I can confirm that multiple deputies with long guns were outside taking shots,” Dougherty said.
“When he started taking shots at our cops … when he was trying to kill our deputies, that’s when we decided to use lethal force,” Dougherty said.
There were many assisting agencies, Dougherty said.
The pursuit also involved Le Roy Police, Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies and State Police.
“There are a lot of scenes to tech with a lot of gunfire exchanged,” Dougherty said.
Dougherty said he expected law enforcement to be at the scene in Geneseo through the night.
The incident began after a Le Roy Police officer had stopped the tractor-trailer driver for speeding on Route 5, or West Main Street, in Le Roy, said Le Roy Police Chief Christopher Hayward.
“From the get go, he would not follow directions,” Hayward said during the briefing. “He pulled away with the officer on the truck.”
The officer was able to jump clear of the tractor-trailer. He was not hurt, Hayward said.
The tractor-trailer continued toward Batavia before making a U-turn near Seven Springs Road and heading back toward Le Roy. From there the tractor-trailer was reported traveling Route 19 south to Pavilion, and then Route 63 through Genesee and Wyoming counties and into Livingston County, arriving in Livingston County a little before 9 p.m.
The truck driver would alternate between normal and slow speeds. The chase never reached high speeds, Dougherty said.
“It’s a large vehicle that frankly is nearly impossible to stop with our patrol cars,” Dougherty said.
The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office deployed metal spikes to try and stop the tractor-trailer. There were “some successful spikes,” Dougherty said, but the truck was able to continue traveling.
The pursuit continued into the village of Geneseo, eastbound on Route 20A, with shots being fired from the tractor-trailer, to Exit 8, where shots were again fired, and onto Interstate 390 southbound. The tractor-trailer made another U-turn and began going northbound on Interstate 390 to Exit 8 where deputies with long guns again fired shots.
The tractor-trailer continued westbound on Route 20A before the truck went off the road before reaching Genesee Valley Plaza.
The truck driver was firing shots out of the truck while weaving in and out of lanes, Dougherty said.
During the pursuit, law enforcement vehicles were ahead of and behind the vehicle – “almost as an escort,” Dougherty said “to clear the road and keep people safe” who wouldn’t know what was coming. Deputies also blocked roads to keep other traffic from entering.
The Sheriff’s Office also used its Hyper-Reach emergency alert system to send messages to mobile phones advising people to stay off Interstate 390. The alert said: “Livingston County currently in pursuit of a tractor trailer 390 SB from Geneseo, he is trying to ram traffic off the highway at this time.”
“We were most concerned about civilians on the roadway,” Dougherty said.
The tractor-trailer driver “had no regard for human life,” he said.
The Sheriff’s Office MRAP, an armored personnel vehicle, was en route to the scene before the tractor-trailer crashed.
Geneseo Fire and Ambulance were also at the scene.
Alex Brasky contributed to this report.