A friend of a young mother slain along with a state trooper in northern New York says she was devoted to her son and always willing to help people.
Jerry Mikels says he was shocked when he heard Army Staff Sgt. Justin Walters was charged in the shooting death Sunday night of his 27-year-old wife Nichole and New York State Trooper Joel Davis. Mikels said he didn't think Justin Walters would be capable of killing his wife.
Mikels said Nichole Walters was staying at home to raise the couple's toddler-age child. He said Nichole met Justin Walters around the time she finished high school in the Syracuse area and was heading to business school. Mikels said Nichole Walters loved animals and raised chickens and ducks on the couple's property outside Fort Drum, near the Canadian border.
U.S. Army officials say Justin Walters is a combat veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan.
Officials at Fort Drum in northern New York say the 32-year-old Staff Sgt., a native of Zeeland, Michigan, has served at the post since joining the Army in 2007. The Army says he's an infantryman who was deployed to Afghanistan for one-year tours with the 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade in January 2009 and again in March 2011.
State police say trooper Joel Davis responded to a report of shots fired shortly after 8 p.m. and was approaching the Walters home last night when he was gunned down.
David Zack, president of the New York Association of Chiefs of Police, says Trooper Davis' death, and the ambush-style killing last week of New York City police officer Miosotis Familia and other similar attacks on police in recent years weigh heavily on law enforcement officers around the state and it’s difficult to maintain morale.
"It's got officers on edge; it's got officers just encountering a lot of stress”, he said. “They're dealing not only with the threats to their personal safety but all the problems and issues complicating law enforcement not only in New York State, but the entire country."
Several officers from both the Rochester and Gates police departments are attending officer Familia's funeral in New York Tuesday.