Combat veteran in custody for killing wife, state trooper

Justin Walters being aided in court by New York State Troopers on July 10, 2017. (Photo: WWNY)

Justin Walters being aided in court by New York State Troopers on July 10, 2017. (Photo: WWNY)

An active-duty soldier arrested for the shooting deaths of his wife and a New York state trooper appeared in a Town of Leray Court on Monday, according to a statement by New York State Police.

Army Staff Sgt. Justin Walters faces first and second degree murder charges. He has been accused of killing his wife, Nichole Walters, 27, Trooper Joel Davis, 36, and injuring his wife’s friend who also lived with the couple.

Originally from Zeeland, Michigan, Walters, 32, is stationed at Fort Drum, some 15 miles from where the shooting took place. He served two tours in Afghanistan as an infantryman.

State Police say they responded to a 911 call around 8 pm Sunday about a domestic disturbance at the Walters’ home in rural Theresa, about 90 miles north of Syracuse. Davis arrived on scene within 20 minutes and immediately radioed dispatch after hearing shots fired.

Joel Davis

New York State Trooper Joel Davis was killed in the line of duty Sunday night while responding to a call about a domestic disturbance. (Photo: New York State Police)

But as Davis exited his cruiser, parked about 75 feet away from the driveway, Walters fired a single shot that hit the trooper, State Police said. When a second trooper arrived, he heard gunfire as he searched for Davis, so he returned to his vehicle. Then, Walters appeared in the driveway armed with a rifle. The trooper trained his weapon on him and as he approached, found Davis lying in a ditch on the side of the road.

The scene began to open up after more officers arrived. They apprehended Walters, rendered aid to Davis and found Walters’ wife lying on the driveway. She had been shot multiple times and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Davis died at the hospital. Authorities said the bullet struck him in the side unprotected by his body armor. He was a four-year veteran with the New York State Police and leaves behind a wife and three children. Friends and family say he loved his job and was a very active member of the community.

Davis’ death came just four days after a New York City Police Officer was killed in an ambush attack as she sat in a mobile command unit in Brooklyn. The two incidents, however, are unrelated. According to Officer Down Memorial Page, Davis was the 69th law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty so far this year, the eighth in New York state alone.

Article updated July 11, 2017 at 8:24 am EST