Gunman Ambushes New York Firefighters

LeRoy man killed his neighbor, set a fire and shot at firefighters
LeRoy fire officials say the suspect shot at the first firefighters to arrive at the scene. (WIVB photo)
Published Tuesday, December 1, 2015

LEROY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Authorities are investigating after a man was shot and killed inside a home in LeRoy Tuesday morning. Relatives of the victim identified him as Norman “Don” Ball. According to his sister-in-law, Ball was sleeping in his bed when a neighbor came into his house and shot him.

A short time after the shooting, a call came in about a fire at the suspect’s home, about a quarter mile up the road. Law enforcement officials say they believe the suspect set the fire himself.

LeRoy fire officials say the suspect shot at the first firefighters to arrive at the scene. No one was hurt, but first responders were forced to retreat and watch the house burn from afar as tactical teams attempted to negotiate with the suspect, who was armed with a shotgun outside his burning house.

FFN: Webster NY Firefighters Killed in Ambush, Dec. 2012

The Monroe County Sheriff says after a standoff that lasted hours, a suspect is in custody and the incident was resolved. The suspect was armed and hoping police would shoot him, according to the Sheriff.

At a press conference at 2 p.m., police in Genesee County identified the suspected gunman as Kyle G. Johnson, a 53-year-old native of LeRoy. Johnson faces several charges, including second degree murder and reckless endangerment.

Officers say they believe he wanted to commit death by cop and indicated to police that was his desire. Officers say Johnson has a history of mental illness.

Police refused to speculate on a motive, but said a homicide investigation is underway.

Selden Road was closed between Route 19 and West Bergen Road for a number of hours. Authorities issued a “shelter in place” for residents in that area that lasted nearly three hours. Residents were told to stay indoors until shortly after 8 a.m.

Ball’s son and grandson were among those sheltering in place.

The Genesee County Sheriff says he plans to hold a news conference to give an update on the situation at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

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FDNY Lieutenant Saves Baby in Queens House Fire

Engine company lieutenant saves a baby inside a Corona house fire
Fire Department City of New York Published Monday, November 23, 2015

On Tuesday, November 17, FDNY Lieutenant Adam Vilagos of Engine Company 316 rescued a newborn baby boy from a fire in Queens. At approximately 9:30p.m. FDNY received calls for a house fire on 106th Street in Queens and arrived at the home minutes later. When Firefighters reached the scene, the occupants reported that a three-week-old newborn baby was still trapped inside the attic of the burning home.

Lt. Vilagos entered the home, searching in zero visibility for a way up into the attic where the baby was trapped. Climbing a steep, narrow set of stairs through thick, black smoke, Lt. Vilagos heard the baby struggling to breathe. He located the baby, carefully removed him from the crib and carried the newborn back down the steep, narrow steps and out of the home back to safety. The baby boy was then treated by EMTs from Station 46, Firefighters from Engine 307 and Paramedics on scene while Lt. Vilagos went back into the home to fight the fire.

As a father of young children, Lt. Vilagos said that his fatherly instincts instantly kicked in when he heard that a child was still inside of the burning home. “I couldn’t imagine if that was my kid” he said, “I was desperately trying to get to that stairwell”.

An eighteen year veteran of the Department, Lt. Vilagos also happens to be the nephew of Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. Growing up in a family of firefighters, “I always knew there was a great comradery [in the Department]”, said Lt. Vilagos, who attributes his response and level of preparedness to the training he has received. “We don’t do anything alone in the fire department, everything is a team effort”.

Commissioner Nigro expressed a deep sense of pride in all of the Firefighters who responded to this fire, as well as in all FDNY Firefighters who risk their lives on a daily basis to help protect those living in and visiting New York City.

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Lt. Vilagos (center) with Members of Engine 316 who responded to the November 17 house fire. (Fire Department City of New York photo)

FDNY Lieutenant Saves Baby in Queens House Fire

New York City Conducts Terror Attack Drill

Subway drill highlighted improvements in communication among agencies
In an abandoned subway station in a lower Manhattan, emergency responders stage a drill simulating a terrorist attack Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in New York. Following the Nov. 13 terror attack in Paris and four days before New York's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, members of the NYPD, Fire Deptartment of New York and Homeland Security participated in the drill. (New York Police Department via AP)
Published Monday, November 23, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of New York emergency responders simulated a coordinated terror attack Sunday, days before one of the city's biggest public events: the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The long-planned drill at a Manhattan subway station got a last-minute update in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris. Officials added an "attacker" wearing a suicide vest.

"In New York City, we are, at this time, very well-prepared and continually improving that preparedness," Police Commissioner William Bratton said outside the abandoned Bowery station in Lower Manhattan.

The three-hour active-shooter exercise took place in the pricey Soho neighborhood populated by art galleries and boutiques. Members of the police, fire and federal Homeland Security departments went into action after a mock call reporting a gunman on the station platform.

Of about 30 simulated straphangers in the station, a dozen suffered "critical wounds" from weapons firing blanks. Firefighters removed them on thick yellow plastic sheets — some covered with fake blood — and law enforcement personnel took on the threat.

First responders from various emergency departments worked as a team, with communication and coordination between agencies an important goal.

"There have been very significant improvements in that capacity since 9/11, also the coordination with the fire department," Bratton said.

The Department of Homeland Security used the exercise to test technologies including GoPro-like cameras worn by first responders and acoustic gunshot detection systems designed to give police and firefighters information to coordinate their responses. Such systems are being developed for surveillance of the subway system, the commissioner said.

Sunday's drill was funded by Homeland Security, and Bratton said there would be more such practice runs he says are "vitally necessary" and provide valuable response lessons.

Bratton said New York law enforcement authorities, together with Homeland Security, are working closely with Paris investigators studying details of the Nov. 13 attacks there, aiming to prepare for similar suicide-bomber terrorism that New York has never experienced.

The commissioner said New York would send a law-enforcement team to Paris when that probe was completed to learn as much as possible from those operations.

Mayor Bill de Blasio watched the three-hour drill, later calling it "an impressive display of the capacity of this city to respond."

The Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, has said it would target the U.S., especially Washington and New York.

Bratton noted that there is no specific threat against the city. But security in the subways, Times Square and other prominent sites has been bolstered.

On Thanksgiving, thousands of officers — including 1,300 counterterrorism officers — will patrol the parade route and watch over millions of spectators, Bratton said. The parade passes through Times Square.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Utah Firefighter Struck at Accident Scene

    Syracuse firefighter was injured while working at a traffic accident
    PAT REAVY, Deseret Morning News Published Monday, November 16, 2015

    SYRACUSE - A Syracuse firefighter was seriously injured Thursday when he was hit by another vehicle while on the scene of a traffic accident.

    Dan Holman, 44, suffered a broken ankle as well as cuts and bruises, some that required stitches.

    "He's banged up. He sustained some signficant injuries, but not life-threatening. It's going to be awhile before he'll be back at work. But all things considered, he's really lucky and doing well," said Syracuse Fire Chief Eric Froerer.

    Emergency crews responded to a traffic accident in front of Syracuse High School, at the intersection of 700 South and 2000 West, about 7:45 p.m. Thursday.

    While some firefighters attended to the patients, Holman was assigned to clear the road of debris from the crash. As he was doing that, he was hit by a car passing through.

    "He was hit head-on, and up onto the hood and windshield and thrown forward several feet," Froerer said. "I don't think he saw the vehicle, and I don't think the driver saw him."

    Froerer said there were police officers directing traffic, flashing emergency lights all around, and the car that hit him was going an estimated 20 mph. But the driver apparently didn't see Holman.

    "It doesn't take much speed in that kind of situation to get somebody hurt," he said. "It's just really scary when something like this happens."

    On the Syracuse Fire Department's Facebook page Friday, a reminder for all motorists was posted: "The bright flashing lights are not Christmas lights. My flourescent clothing is not a fashion statement. Slow down. Move over."

    "There's a lot of distractions, a lot of flashing lights and a lot of people, and you're looking around and trying to navigate your way through," Froerer said of typical emergency scenes while asking motorists to pay extra attention when passing through one.

    Holman has been with the fire department since 2003.

    "He is a huge part of the heart and soul of this station," a representative from the department posted on their Facebook wall. "I can't imagine this place without him. He serves us all in so many ways - and it is clear he loves his job. Thank you! Our hearts will be with him and your family during his recovery!"

    The Utah Highway Patrol is handling the investigation into the crash.


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    Mississippi Firefighter Given Extensive Face Transplant

    Severely burned 14 years ago, firefighter Patrick Hardison is given a new life
    This combination of photos provided by the New York University Langone Medical Center shows Patrick Hardison before and after his facial transplant surgery in New York. Hardison was burned Sept. 5, 2001, in Senatobia, Miss. A 27-year-old father of three at the time who’d served for seven years as a volunteer firefighter, he entered a burning house to search for a woman. The roof collapsed, giving him third-degree burns on his head, neck and upper torso. (Mary Spano/Eduardo D. Rodriguez/Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery/NYU Langone Medical Center via AP)
    Published Monday, November 16, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — A volunteer firefighter badly burned in a 2001 blaze has received the most extensive face transplant ever, covering his skull and much of his neck, a New York hospital announced Monday.

    The surgery took place in August at the NYU Langone Medical Center. The patient, 41-year-old Patrick Hardison, is still undergoing physical therapy at the hospital but plans to return home to Senatobia, Mississippi, in time for Thanksgiving.

    The surgery has paved the way for him to regain normal vision, and in an interview last week he said that will let him accomplish a major goal: "I'll start driving again."

    More than two dozen face transplants have been performed worldwide since the first one in France in 2005. Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, who led the surgical team that did Hardison's transplant and recently wrote a review of the field, said Hardison's is by far the most extensive performed successfully in terms of the amount of tissue transferred.

    The transplant extends from the top of the head, over Hardison's skull and down to the collarbones in front; in back, it reaches far enough down that only a tiny patch of Hardison's original hair remains — its color matched by the dark blond hair growing on his new scalp. The transplant includes both ears.

    It's "a historic achievement," said Dr. Amir Dorafshar, co-director of the face transplant program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the operation. "This type of treatment option will potentially revolutionize the care of patients with severe facial burn injuries."

    The surgery began Aug. 14 and lasted 26 hours. It left no scars on Hardison's new face because the seam of the transplanted tissue runs down the back of his skull.

    The donor was 26-year-old New York artist and competitive bicyclist David P. Rodebaugh. He had died of injuries from a biking accident on a Brooklyn street.

    Hardison was burned Sept. 5, 2001, in Senatobia in northwestern Mississippi. A 27-year-old father of three at the time who'd served for seven years as a volunteer firefighter, he entered a burning house to search for a woman. The roof collapsed, giving him third-degree burns on his head, neck and upper torso.

    He spent about two months at a Memphis, Tennessee, burn center. Doctors used a layer of skin from his legs to cover his wounded head, but he had lost his ears, lips, most of his nose and virtually all of his eyelid tissue.

    Since he could not blink, doctors used skin grafts to reinforce what remained of his eyelids and sewed them nearly shut to protect his eyes. That left him with only pinhole vision.

    "I was almost totally blind," he recalled. "I could see just a little bit."

    His face was "one huge scar," Rodriguez said. Hardison still went to baseball games and did other things outside, although people stared. He playfully told curious children that he had fought a bear. Still, he said, life was hard. He endured 71 surgeries.

    Eventually a church friend of his wrote to Rodriguez, who had performed a 2012 face transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The doctor said he would try to help, and in August 2014 Hardison was placed on a waiting list.

    "We were looking for the ideal donor," one who matched Hardison on biological traits to minimize the risk of his body's rejecting the new tissue, as well as things like skin and hair color, said Rodriguez, who by then had moved to NYU Langone.

    A year later, Rodebaugh was identified as a potential donor by LiveOnNY, the nonprofit organization that seeks transplant organs and tissue in the New York City area. A native of the Columbus, Ohio, area, he had signed up to donate organs. His mother gave permission to use his face, noting that Rodebaugh had always wanted to be a firefighter, said LiveOnNY president Helen Irving.

    The hospital paid for the transplant operation, which included attaching four bone segments to Hardison's skull, as anchors to prevent the face from drooping.

    Now, three months later, the lower part of his face remains swollen, but Rodriguez said that will go away in a few months. With his new eyelids and more surgery, he's expected to regain a normal field of vision for the first time in more than a decade. He will have to continuing taking medications to prevent his body from rejecting the transplant.

    Eventually, "a casual observer will not notice anything that is odd" in Hardison's new face, which will blend features of his original face and the donor's, Rodriguez said.

    Hardison said his new face has already made a difference when he goes outside.

    "I used to get stared at all the time, but now I'm just an average guy," he said.

    He's been told he can't return to firefighting because of insurance concerns, but he has another plan: motivational speaking or something similar, perhaps for wounded veterans.

    His message? "Just how there is hope."



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