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Suspect shot dead in upstate New York police standoff

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Police officers walk down North Main Street away from the scene of a standoff with shooting suspect Kurt Myers on Wednesday in Herkimer, N.Y.

An overnight police standoff in upstate New York ended Thursday after the man suspected of killing four people and injuring two more in a shooting spree was shot and killed by law enforcement officials.

The suspect, identified as area resident Kurt Myers, opened fire on a canine unit at about 8 a.m. this morning, New York State Trooper Jack Keller told NBC News, killing a dog. Police returned fire, killing the suspect and bringing an end to the nearly 19-hour confrontation.

“This morning, law enforcement officials entered the building and, after being fired upon, shot and killed the suspect, Kurt Myers,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Thursday. “There were no injuries to local law enforcement officials, though an FBI police dog was fatally shot.”

Police deployed gas to try to flush the suspect out on Wednesday, New York State Police superintendent Joseph D’Amico said at a press conference after the standoff ended. Myers, who was in a small room, may have been able to shield himself from the gas, he said. Police maintained watch at the scene throughout the night, D’Amico said.

He declined to comment on other tactics.

Police had approached the situation with caution after Myers holed up in an abandoned bar in the town of Herkimer, N.Y., on Wednesday. Loud bangs and the wail of alarms were heard throughout the night in the town, local newspaper the Observer-Dispatch reported.

What police called the suspect’s “totally unprovoked” series of slayings in the quiet Mohawk Valley appears to have begun after Myers, 64, set his Mohawk, N.Y., house on fire on Wednesday, New York State Police said.

He then walked into John’s Barber Shop in the town and opened fire at about 9:30 a.m., killing two people and injuring two more, police said.

“Totally unprovoked, we believe he fired a number of rounds from the shotgun,” superintendent of New York State Police Joseph D’Amico told reporters at a Wednesday press conference.

The shooter at the barbershop on Wednesday seemed to be in no hurry, Nicole Dillon told local NBC affiliate WKTV.

“We saw a guy walking around the shop,” Dillon said of the killings she witnessed from a nearby sidewalk. “There were two shots fired. We watched him reload the gun. He was walking around. We watched him shoot the one guy, then he went into the shop and shot the other guy.”

Myers then went to Gaffey’s Fast Lube in Herkimer and allegedly shot and killed two more people. He is thought to have then driven to the abandoned bar that police surrounded on Wednesday, where Myers remained barricaded inside on Thursday morning.

A large police force quickly amassed around the former Glory Days bar in Herkimer on Wednesday. Police exchanged gunfire with the suspect when they first arrived at the scene on Wednesday, D’Amico said. No officers were injured, he said. Safety of residents and police were the first concern of authorities as they worked to bring the situation to an end.

“We’re concerned about officers’ safety, so we are in no rush to bring this to a conclusion,” D’Amico said at a press conference on Wednesday. He said that troopers had not had any communication with Myers.

The suspect was considered “armed and extremely dangerous,” Joseph Malone, the Herkimer and Mohawk police chief, told the Albany Times-Union, a local daily. The area around the standoff was evacuated as police hunkered down, and several area schools were closed as of Thursday morning.

A man who lives in an apartment overlooking the bar told the Associated Press that he had heard police trying to talk with Myers before the final shootout.

“The snipers on the roof are sitting there,” Myles Smith told the AP. “I ain’t seen a whole lot of movement. I heard about five gunshots. I keep hearing them trying to talk him out, but I don’t think he’s coming out.”

Police blasted loud horns at the scene around 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. in the morning with no apparent result, the Observer-Dispatch reported.

State police have identified the victims in Wednesday’s shooting spree. Harry Montgomery, 68, of Mohawk, and Michael Ransear, 57, of Herkimer, died in the barber shop. The car wash killings claimed the lives of Thomas Stefka, a man in his 60s who worked at the business. Also killed was Michael Renshaw, a 20-year veteran of the Departments of Corrections who was in his 40s, state police said.

Myers’ only previous known encounter with the law involved a 1973 arrest for driving while intoxicated. Bob Harrod, Myers’ landlord, told WKTV that he was a “quiet individual,” and “one of our best tenants.”

A number of guns and ammunition were found by authorities at the man’s residence, Cuomo said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“This is truly an inexplicable situation,” Cuomo said. “There was no apparent rational motive, to the best of our knowledge at this time, to provoke these attacks.”

NBC News’ Elizabeth Chuck, Andrew Rafferty, and John Newland contributed to this report.

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