A Quiet Sunday Night in Syracuse, and Then a Deadly Ambush

The deadliest day in Syracuse police history in over 30 years began when two officers attempted to pull over a gray Honda Civic on a quiet corner outside a church. The car peeled away, out of sight — but not before the police officers clocked its license plate.

The officers soon tracked the Civic to Darien Drive in the town of Salina, a suburb about 15 minutes away. It was parked in front of a well-kept house. But when an officer approached and looked inside the vehicle, he saw the first sign of real trouble, and reached for his police radio.

“There are AR-15 magazines in the back of his car,” he said, and described the sounds of a gun being loaded: “We hear racking coming from the house.”

The street had settled into its quiet Sunday night rhythms. Duane Shenandoah, 80, was out back nearby with his daughter, a wedding planner, helping her paint a backdrop for an upcoming ceremony. Another neighbor, Mousa Alzokari, 47, who works at a Syracuse newsstand, was home with his five children in their living room. And across the street, Daniel Kay, 73, was reading his Sunday newspaper at his front window.

Onondaga County sheriff’s deputies met the officers outside the house with the Civic, and they made a quick plan. One of the deputies, Lt. Michael Hoosock, 37, hurried around toward the back. Tucking behind a neighbor’s maple tree for cover, he watched the house in question. Two Syracuse police officers watched the front door.

The authorities would spend hours piecing together the moments that followed.

Behind the house, in the darkening night, a form crept onto a back deck: a man with an assault rifle.

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