State troopers are investigating the death of one of their own in Broome County. They say a man in a pick-up truck intentionally hit Trooper Christopher Skinner on Interstate 81 northbound, near Castle Creek.
KIRKWOOD, N.Y. -- The suspect that allegedly killed State Trooper Christopher Skinner insists it wasn't on purpose.
"This cop that got killed, I don't know how it happened. It had to be a time warp," 60-year-old Florida resident Almond Upton said as he left court Thursday.
But investigators are painting a very different picture. Troopers say Upton crashed into two cars before hitting Skinner. Investigators say they're trying to figure out what made the suspect take such a violent turn.
"No, we don't know the motive," said State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico. "Hopefully the investigation will get to the bottom of what he was thinking and why he did it. But it was obvious to us, we have witnesses on the road that saw him in the previous accidents and strike our trooper."
After Upton allegedly hit the trooper, he ran into the nearby woods. The police say they found the suspect thanks to a K9 unit and helicopter search. They also say Upton admitted to hitting Skinner on purpose, but troopers are still looking for more evidence.
"We are going to be continuing our investigation," said D'Amico. "We're going to be speaking with anyone who had any kind of connection with Upton. Try to track his movements prior to the accident, and try to make some sense of this, honestly."
D'Amico said the state would do its best to put together a solid case against Upton. But he also took time to reflect on what Skinner's death means for this community.
"I would like to say our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Trooper Skinner," he said. "His family and friends, his fellow troopers, all in mourning here; it's a tremendous loss for the New York State Police, it's a tremendous loss for New York. Trooper Skinner was out there enforcing laws and protecting us, so it's a tremendous loss for all of us."
If convicted on the first-degree murder charge, Upton could face life in prison without parole.