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ON DEMAND: THIS AMERICAN LIFE tribute to the 10 killed in the Tops Market shootings (avail. Sunday after 8pm)

Rochester police officer killed in the line of duty

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Rochester Police
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A Rochester police officer was killed by gunfire Wednesday night by a suspect who was fleeing police. Daryl Pierson, 32, is the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty since 1959.  He was shot during a chase around 9:30 p.m.  The suspect, 38-year-old parolee Thomas Johnson, was wounded by another officer and apprehended. The suspect underwent surgery at a local hospital. A bystander also suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Pierson was an eight-year veteran of the force, as well as a member of the Army Reserves. He is survived by a wife and two young children, an infant and a 4-year-old. 

Lieutenant governor Robert Duffy, in Buffalo Thursday, called the news "heartbreaking." The former mayor and police chief of Rochester says he knew Pierson by name.

"It's hard to even begin to express into words the pain that everybody feels," Duffy said, following a scheduled appearance at Forest Lawn cemetery.

"He is a veteran serving our country. He served in Afghanistan in combat. Just a kid who grew up in East Rochester [who] served our country, serving our community there. He went back, bought a home in his community, started a family, living the American dream like so many people yearn to do every single day. And his life was cut short last night," Duffy added.

Duffy says Pierson's death is a reminder of the dangers police officers face on the job every day to protect the public. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren held a brief news conference early Thursday, saying words cannot express the sense of sorrow and loss caused by the officer's death.

Flags on state buildings will fly at half-staff Friday in honor of the fallen officer.