A heavily armed man who crashed his pickup truck, then shot an EMT responding to the accident before being killed by police appeared to be on his way to carry out a mass killing, police said Wednesday.
The man, who was not identified by police, had a rifle strapped to his chest, and extra ammunition inserted in elongated wristbands on his arms, Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey told reporters. He had six weapons in his possession, including a Tec-9 automatic pistol.
"It is clear to us that this man was out to commit mayhem in this county," Mulvey said of the suspect, whom he described as about 31. Police believe he moved to Long Island from Florida in the past year. The Ford pickup truck he was driving had Florida license plates.
"There may have been some turmoil in his personal life," Mulvey said, but he would not elaborate. The suspect had an arrest record for petty larceny, but there were no arrests for any violence, police said.
The EMT, identified as 20-year-old Justin Angell of Bellmore, was in stable condition at Nassau University Medical Center. He posted a message on his Facebook page saying he was getting better.
"To everyone ... thank u so much for the calls concerns and visits ... just got up and walked a bit," said part of the message.
Shooting erupted at about 10 p.m. Tuesday in Bellmore after the man hit a utility pole with his truck. When the volunteer ambulance crew arrived, he fired at least eight shots at them from an assault rifle, wounding Angell.
Police responding to the crash then shot the man when he threatened them; the rifle the gunman was carrying had a laser scope and two officers realized they were being targeted. Mulvey said the fatal shot came from a third officer with the K-9 unit, who believed he was assisting with the car crash.
"None of us expect when they come upon the scene of an accident to be fired on," Mulvey said.
It was not clear whom the gunman may have been targeting, but Mulvey was convinced had the crash not occurred, a mass shooting was imminent.
"He has strapped to his chest a firearm with a scope. He has in his lap a long barreled revolver, and in his pocket a semiautomatic pistol," Mulvey said. "He's utilizing an assault weapon with a laser scope and there's a Tec-9 behind the passenger seat within easy arm reach of his hand, and another weapon in the car.
"It all evokes to me evidence that had he not been stopped by police, there very well could have been mayhem committed in this community."
Nassau County, located just east of New York City, is often considered America's first suburb. About 1.5 million people live in the county, which has been described as one of the wealthiest in the U.S.