A law enforcement official stands in the doorway of the building where a man was killed on Thursday in a shootout with police in Herkimer, N.Y.
A law enforcement official stands in the doorway of the building where a man was killed on Thursday in a shootout with police in Herkimer, N.Y. (Associated Press)

HERKIMER, N.Y. (AP) -- Police SWAT teams navigated a cluttered, abandoned bar to find the suspect in four fatal shootings holed up in a small room, killing him in a shootout early Thursday with officers after a nearly 19-hour standoff that paralyzed an upstate New York village.

Why Kurt Myers went on the shooting rampage the day before remained a mystery.

State police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said state police and FBI tactical teams entered the first floor of a building in Herkimer around 8 a.m. to end the standoff with Myers, 64, of neighboring Mohawk. Myers opened fire through a door at officers, killing an FBI dog, D'Amico said.

Police returned fire, killing Myers, he said. No officers were injured.

Myers' death ended a nearly 24-hour ordeal that engulfed the Mohawk Valley villages, where police say Myers killed four men and two wounded two others at a barbershop in Mohawk and a car care business in Herkimer.

‘Random attacks'

D'Amico said police still don't know why Myers went to the two small businesses and opened fire with a shotgun. He called the attacks "unprovoked and random."

"He's apparently a loner," D'Amico said. "He didn't have a lot of contact with his family. The few people we did find that were relatives -- we interviewed some neighbors -- nobody could offer any explanation."

Authorities said Myers opened fire on police at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday along a block in Herkimer as they searched for him in the hours after the shootings. They surrounded an abandoned bar called Glory Days where they believed he was holed up. Police had said earlier that they were willing to wait out Myers. But Thursday morning they sent in the SWAT teams.

"It just seemed like the appropriate time," D'Amico said, with elaborating.

Police say Myers sauntered into a barbershop Wednesday, coolly asked if the man cutting hair remembered him and then opened fire with a shotgun, the first shots in a burst of violence that would leave four dead, two critically wounded.

"We commend the courage and extraordinary efforts of the state police, the FBI and local law enforcement officials in finding the suspect and ending this horrific spree of violence and bloodshed," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Thursday morning. "It's now time for mourning those who we lost in this senseless act of violence."

The shootings shattered the peace and rattled the nerves of Mohawk and Herkimer, two small villages about 170 miles northwest of New York City, separated from each other by the Mohawk River and the New York State Thruway.

Police said Myers' rampage started with a fire in his apartment in the nearby village of Mohawk at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. He then drove to John's Barber Shop around the corner and used a shotgun to kill two customers, D'Amico said, identifying them as Harry Montgomery, 68, and Michael Ransear, 57, a retired corrections officer. The shop's owner and another customer were wounded.

The gunman then drove to Gaffey's Fast Lube in nearby Herkimer and used the shotgun to kill Michael Renshaw and Thomas Stefka. Renshaw was a 23-year employee of the state corrections department who worked at Mid-State Correctional Facility near Utica. Stefka worked at Gaffey's and attended Mohawk Reform Church, where he played guitar during services.

Neighbors said they barely knew Myers, who rarely spoke, left every morning in his red Jeep and came back.