Slain Onondaga County, NY, Deputy Also Fire Captain

April 16, 2024
Michael Hoosock, a former deputy chief at Moyers Corners Fire Department, was gunned down in a shootout in Salina Sunday.

Tim Knauss


Syracuse, N.Y. — Michael Hoosock’s career in public service began when he was just a teenager. It ended Sunday night, 22 years later, when he was gunned down on duty at a shootout in Salina.

Hoosock, 37, of Clay, was a decorated 16-year veteran of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office and a volunteer firefighter who served as a captain at the Moyers Corners Fire Department.

He was married with three young children.

Hoosock was one of two police officers killed Sunday night while responding to a call on Darien Drive in Salina. Hoosock, who was among the first to arrive at the scene, grew suspicious after hearing the sound of a gun being prepared to fire, Sheriff Toby Shelley said today at a news conference. Hoosock took cover behind a maple tree in the back yard of the neighboring house.

The suspected killer, Christopher Murphy, fired at Hoosock from the back deck of his house with a Springfield AR-15, a military-style assault weapon, killing him there, Shelley said. Murphy then ran to the front of the house and fired at Syracuse Police Officer Michael Jensen, killing him. Murphy died after being fired upon by police officers at the scene.

Friends of Hoosock on Monday said they were still reeling from the loss. They knew him as “Hootch.” And they thought the world of him.

“The guy was amazing,’’ said Michael Brown, chief of the Moyers Corners Fire Department, where Hoosock volunteered for the past 17 years. “He basically dedicated his life to public service.”

Hoosock was also known as a dedicated family man, a jokester who would tell the best story at the bar, and a fan of the rock band Def Leppard, friends said.

“He was just always great to be around,’’ said Nicholas Eldred, a battalion chief at Moyers Corners. “He was one of those unique human beings, that nothing ever bothered him. He was always happy.”

Hoosock’s public service began when he volunteered with the Lyncourt Fire Department as a teenager. He later joined the Moyers Corners Fire Department, where he was a captain.

In 2007, Hoosock went to work at the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant. He was working most recently as the bomb squad commander. Before that, he served in a variety of roles: detective in the Criminal Investigations Division, tactical flight officer for the Air 1 helicopter, bomb technician, police instructor and field training officer.

He also worked part-time as a certified paramedic with the Manlius Fire Department. Previously, he had worked as a paramedic for Rural Metro and for WAVES Ambulance.

Mike Nesci, a friend who met Hoosock in a firefighter training class more than 20 years ago, said Hoosock was a thoughtful person who put others’ needs first.

“He was probably one of the best people you have ever known,’’ said Nesci, who now works in labor relations and serves as a Manlius town councilor.

Hoosock received several commendations during his career at the sheriff’s office, Sheriff Shelley said today.

In 2020, Hoosock was awarded a medal of valor for his actions during a confrontation with an armed man at the Regional Transportation Center in Syracuse, Shelley said.

Hoosock fired his weapon at a man who had opened fire inside the transportation center. The suspect, Andrew Booker, was not wounded but quickly surrendered after being fired upon.

Booker had started shooting, wounding a security guard and another man, because he was upset that his trip from Massachusetts to Ohio got delayed by mechanical issues, authorities said.

In January 2012, Hoosock was one of two deputies named Deputy of the Year by the New York State Sheriff’s Association. Hoosock and Deputy Adam Quku were awarded for their May 2011 response to a mentally unstable man who pulled out what appeared to be a .357 Magnum handgun. Again, the incident happened at the Regional Transportation Center, this time in the parking lot. The man’s gun later turned out to be a pellet gun.

Hoosock, Quku and a Syracuse police officer drew their weapons and fatally shot the man, 55-year-old Benjamin J. Campione, police said.

“This is very well deserved,” then-Sheriff Kevin Walsh said of the award. “The display of exceptional judgment in dealing with such an unpredictable and potentially deadly situation defines their commitment to our community.’’

Hoosock also received a certificate of merit from the sheriff’s office in 2008. Details of that award were not immediately available.

“This is just an incredible human being,’' County Executive Ryan McMahon said.

He leaves a wife and three children, ages 3, 5 and 7, Shelley said. The sheriff said he was on his way to meet with Hoosock’s family after today’s press conference.

“Words are hard to find,’' he added.

In a 2015 post on his Facebook page, Hoosock expressed his views on being a firefighter:

“Whether you work on the busiest engine in FDNY, or volunteer at the slowest department in the U.S., remember the reason we do what we do. We must train harder, work together, and be smarter than we were yesterday. … Should we fail, and Lord knows we will, we must be there for each other today, and then work to be better tomorrow.”

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