December 5, 2021

Shooting suspect awaits next date in court

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Police and special response team specialists cluster Friday night outside a building on Elm Street in Cortland, where a man held off police after a police officer had been shot.

The man charged with shooting a Cortland City police officer Friday and having a 12-hour standoff with police is awaiting his next court date in Cortland County Jail without bail.

Police Chief F. Michael Catalano said the last time he could remember an officer being shot in the line of duty was the 1980s when an officer was accidentally shot during a training exercise.

Zachary L. Clark, 26, of 12 Elm St. was arraigned Saturday in Cortland City Court on felony charges of first degree assault, aggravated assault on a police or peace officer, first-degree reckless endangerment and menacing a police or peace officer after police said he shot a city officer who was responding to a report of an armed man involved in a domestic dispute on 12 Elm St.

He was also charged with fourth degree criminal possession of a weapon and prohibited use of weapons, misdemeanors.

Police said Clark shot the officer three times in the leg with a semiautomatic rifle from the porch.

The officer took cover behind his marked patrol car and applied a tourniquet to his badly bleeding upper leg as the man continued to fire, shooting holes in the windshield of the police car, police said.

Twelve hours later, Clark surrendered to police.

Clark was first taken to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center for a single gunshot wound to his left forearm, then transferred to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse for treatment of the non-life threatening injury.

The Cortland city police officer’s name hasn’t been released by city police officials.

“There will be no communication with our people at this time,” Deputy Chief Paul Sandy said Monday morning when asked about the officer’s name, condition and whether the officer could be spoken to.

Sandy said the reasoning is because it is an ongoing investigation, although police officials posted photos and video of the officer at the hospital and leaving it on social media.

The officer was released from Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, Community Oriented Policing Officer Jesse Abbott announced Saturday via Facebook.

It remains unclear the extent of his injuries, but the officer was seen walking to a car as he exited the hospital.

Clark’s next court date is May 1 in Cortland City Court.