December 6, 2021

Suspect in standoff with city police now accused of attempted murder

Charges upgraded in shooting

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Zachary L. Clark, left and defense attorney Jerome Mayersak sit Wednesday in Cortland County Court. Clark is accused of shooting a Cortland police officer last spring.

A man accused of shooting a Cortland city police officer following a domestic dispute, leading to a 12-hour standoff in March, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges — upgraded from assault charges — during his arraignment Wednesday in Cortland County Court.

Zachary L. Clark, 27, of 12 Elm St., Cortland was arraigned on charges of attempted first-degree murder; attempted second-degree murder; attempted first-degree assault; two counts of menacing a police officer or peace officer; aggravated assault upon a police officer, felonies.

He was also arraigned on third-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, prohibited use of a weapon and two counts of second-degree menacing, misdemeanors; disorderly conduct, a violation.

Police say Clark shot Officer Chad Knapp three times on March 27, as Knapp responded to a domestic dispute at 12 Elm St., leading to a 12-hour standoff. Knapp was taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, treated, and released the next day.

Cortland County District Attorney Patrick Perfetti said Clark could receive 40 years to life in prison for the top charge of attempted first-degree murder if convicted.

Both defense attorney Jerome Mayersak and Perfetti said that they were prepared should the case be brought to a trial.

Judge Julie A. Campbell ordered Clark held without bail. Clark’s next court appearance is Oct. 8.

Clark had been drinking alcohol and got into a violent dispute with relatives around 7:30 p.m. March 27, court documents show. Bryant Holl, Clark’s brother, would not let Clark borrow his car.

When Clark’s mother, Petula Holl, tried to end the argument, Clark held with him a rifle he recently bought. He refused to give it up, and Holl hurt herself trying to take it from him.

Clark threatened to shoot Bryant Holl, records show, and both Holls left to get medical treatment for Petula Holl.

When Bryant Holl returned, he saw Clark aiming the gun at the door, so he called police, records show.

Knapp arrived to confront Clark and, after he tried knocking the gun away from Clark, Clark opened fire on Knapp, hitting him three times. The officer ran back to his car, applied a tourniquet and called for backup.

A 12-hour standoff involving police from Cortland and other nearby agencies — along with special weapons and tactics units from Syracuse — proceeded from there, closing off Elm and Church streets, along with Clinton Avenue.

Clark surrendered around 8 a.m. March 28. He was initially taken to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center and then to Upstate University Hospital for a nonlife-threatening gunshot wound to his left forearm.

Clark was initially arraigned in Cortland City Court on the following felonies: first-degree assault; aggravated assault on a police officer; first-degree reckless endangerment; and menacing a police officer.

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