Former New York Police Captain Mistakenly Shoots, Kills Son

PHOTO: A police officer from the Rochester area accidentally shot and killed his son, July 21, 2012, at the Clarks Beach Motel in Old Forge, NY.
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New York cops are trying to determine whether to file charges against a retired police captain who mistook his son for an intruder and shot him at an Adirondacks motel.

"We're concerned with whether or not the shooter was intoxicated, and whether or not the victim was intoxicated, or both," said Jeff Carpenter, acting district attorney for Herkimer County, N.Y., who is assisting with the investigation.

Michael Leach, 59, and his son, Matthew Leach, 37, of Rochester, N.Y., were staying at Clark's Beach Motel in Old Forge, N.Y., over the weekend during an outing with the Rochester chapter of the Punishers Motorcycle Club.

Michael Leach is a retired captain of the Rochester, N.Y., police department.

According to Dan Rivet Jr., the motel's owner and lead paramedic on the case, members of the club had been drinking a few beers Friday evening outside their rooms. While others lingered early into Saturday morning, Michael Leach had gone to bed, he said.

But around 12:51 a.m. Saturday morning, Michael Leach called 911 to report that he had shot his son, Matthew Leach, with his service weapon, a .45-caliber Glock handgun, thinking he was an intruder, according to state police.

When Rivet and other paramedics arrived on the scene, Michael Leach was distraught while trying to care for his wounded son, who they found lying on the floor.

"When we first got there, we couldn't find the gunshot wound on [Matthew]," he said. "We didn't find the bullet wound until we got him in our ambulance."

Rivet said Matthew Leach had been shot once below his right shoulder. He was rushed to the closest hospital, St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, N.Y., nearly 55 miles away, where he was pronounced dead.

The autopsy was conducted Saturday afternoon in Oneida County, N.Y., but preliminary findings are not currently available, said Carpenter.

Carpenter said Michael Leach is currently seeking medical treatment in a secure facility.

Rivet said that the Leaches were a police family in Rochester. While Michael Leach retired from the Rochester police, he is currently a part-time police patrolman for the Perry Police Department in Perry, N.Y. His father was the Rochester police chief in the 1980s, and his brother is the serving captain, Rivet said.

Matthew Leach worked as a security guard for RDG security, according to his obituary.

Rivet said that motorcycle club members had stayed at his motel in the past, but never caused any problems.

"We've never had anything happen like that in Old Forge," said Rivet. "The worst problem I've had in the motel was a deer getting in the garbage."

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