Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Patrolman Robert A. Mumford

Sherrill Police Department, New York

End of Watch Tuesday, September 9, 1969

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Reflections for Patrolman Robert A. Mumford

Patrolman Mumford,
On today, the 50th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you to you and your Chief for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Sherrill. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

R.I.P.
USBP

Anonymous
United States Border Patrol

September 9, 2019

Rest In Peace Brother in Blue. Thank you Hero an your family for your sacrifice and service. Never forgotten.

Officer Mike Robinson (Ret.)
Upland Police Dept. CA

September 9, 2019

Posted On Oneida Daily Dispatch
Sept. 22, 2019

Sunday marks 50th anniversary of fatal police shootings in Sherrill

Sherrill, N.Y. — Sunday marks the 50th year following the tragic incident which led to the deaths of Police Officer Robert A. Mumford and Police Chief Thomas P. Reilly, both were killed in the line of duty in Sherrill.

The tragedy from fifty years ago is the subject of the pilot episode of a docu-series titled, "Blue Legacy: The Stories Behind the Badge." The documentary, currently in production, will include firsthand accounts from victims and witnesses to the 1969 case, along with family members of the deceased officers and others.

At about 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, 1969, Martin Fitzpatrick, held up the attendant of Finn’s Gulf Station in Canastota at gunpoint stealing his wallet and the station’s receipts, about $400.

Officials said police were immediately called which resulted in a radio alert by Oneida Police to other police cars in the region, including Sherrill Police about 7 miles away.

At about 9:48 p.m., reports say that Mumford and Reilly stopped a car matching the description of the wanted vehicle and interviewed the driver who denied knowledge of the robbery. It appears that Fitzpatrick was being cooperative and providing some story to the officers, which caused Chief Reilly to doubt that they had stopped the right car, authorities said.

At 9:54 p.m., Reilly radioed to the dispatcher that he thought they had the wrong man, and that Fitzpatrick was being cooperative. But during his interaction with the officers, Fitzpatrick apparently became aware that the Canastota police were bringing the victim to Sherrill to identify him, a procedure known by police as a “show up”. About four minutes later, Fitzpatrick drew a pistol, shot both officers, and sped away in his car.

Chief Reilly was able to reach his police radio and at 9:58 p.m., broadcast that he and Officer Mumford had been shot. Wayne Coston was on duty as the Desk Sergeant at Oneida police headquarters that night and he remembers taking Chief Reilly’s radio call. Coston said, “It’s been fifty years, and I will never get that out of my mind, he said, ‘We’re shot, we’re shot, God help me, please hurry...’” The injured Reilly had also written down Fitzpatrick’s name and license plate number in his police notebook.

Fitzpatrick fled the shooting and drove to Munnsville where he found a darkened home in a remote area. It was just minutes after the shooting in Sherrill when he knocked on the door of the occupant, Marie DiLapi, asking for a glass of water and directions.

DiLapi said, “He wanted to know how to get to Syracuse, and I gave him directions via Route 5, but he didn’t want to go that way.” Mrs. DiLapi was home alone with her two daughters, ages 4 and 6.

After a short conversation, Fitzpatrick forced his way into the home brandishing his handgun. He checked out the home and the bedroom where the two little girls slept. He then told Mrs. DiLapi that she was going to drive him to Syracuse in her car, likely knowing that a large police dragnet would be looking for him in his own car.

After all, he had been stopped once after committing the armed robbery in Canastota, and now he had shot two police officers. Fitzpatrick forced Mrs. DiLapi and her two girls into DiLapi’s car and ordered her to drive back roads to Syracuse.

“When we got near Jamesville I was really scared that he would kill us and dump us over a hillside," she remembered. “But we continued on to Syracuse, where he directed me where to drive until he got out.” Mrs. DiLapi and her girls were finally free. She drove around until she was able to alert someone to call police.

Mrs. DiLapi’s information would turn out to be a critical clue in the investigation and manhunt for Fitzpatrick as the search was previously focused toward the areas east of Sherrill, rather than west toward Syracuse.

Deputy Fran Broski worked for the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office at the time and was on duty that evening back in 1963. “I was in Vernon when the call came in that there were two Sherrill police officers down. I drove to the scene and found that the ambulances were loading Bob and Tom to get them to the hospital.”

Additional police vehicles arrived on scene and Broski took off in the direction pointed out by witnesses to search for the suspect.

“I started searching Route 5 and went all the way to Kirkville, and then I checked side roads looking for the car.” A civilian witness, John Orr, was across the street at a gas station he owned, when the officers were shot. Orr’s stepson, Bruce Rochester, remembered the night.

“I was talking with my step-dad out in front of the gas station and we had seen that the police had a car stopped. All of a sudden we heard gunshots, and my step-dad instinctively took off after the fleeing car.” Rochester described his father as a hard-charger, former military and a sitting justice of the peace for nearby Vernon. “But my stepfather was driving a Chevy Blazer K5 and couldn’t keep up with him.”

The harrowing night of September 8, 1969, is still remembered to this day by many in Sherrill. A park has since been named in honor of the fallen officers, Reilly-Mumford Park, where various community events are held throughout the year.

A monument at the park commemorates their service and sacrifice. We remember the heroism of not only the police officers, but also two civilians who found themselves in danger: a young mom kidnapped at gunpoint thinking on her feet and trying to make sure she can get her daughters to safety; and the gas station owner and justice of the peace who tore after a suspect knowing that the man had just shot at police.

Retired Police Officer
NYPD

September 8, 2019

To fully appreciate the heroes of the present, we must recognize our heroes of the past. Your heroism and service is honored today, the 44th anniversary year of your death. I am priviliged to leave a tribute to you. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer who was murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Time never diminishes respect. Your memory will always be honored and revered. Rest In Peace.

Phyllis Lasater Loya
mom of fallen Pittsburg (CA) officer Larry Lasater

May 4, 2013

To fully appreciate the heroes of the present, we must recognize our heroes of the past. Your heroism and service is honored today, the 44th anniversary year of your death. I am priviliged to leave a tribute to you. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer who was murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Time never diminishes respect. Your memory will always be honored and revered. Rest In Peace

Phyllis Lasater Loya
mom of fallen Pittsburg (CA) officer Larry Lasater

May 4, 2013

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Matthew 5:9

Marshal Chris Di Gerolamo
Federal Air Marshal Service

September 13, 2012

I said a little prayer today for Patrolman Mumford and his family. He may be gone but never forgotten. He will always be a New York HERO.

Robyn Wilkes

September 4, 2009

These two deaths were an incredible tragedy for the Sherrill Police Department, and the entire community. At the time of this incident I lived nearby. My dad knew Patrolman Mumford and remarked about him being a good person, and an honorable man. It is now time for my retirement. As I do this I wanted to take the time to thank you for your service, knowing that your sacrifice is still honored by your fellow cops. Continue to rest in peace. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Lt. Jim Keenan
Rochester, NY PD

September 28, 2007

A year has passed since we lost a brother in NHPD. Just thinking of you and your sacrafice. Rest in peace brother.

Fellow Cop

February 26, 2007

dad all though were my father-in-law I loved you as my dad. the tears all come back when ever I think of that awful night. You are always in my thoughts. Now you have your son Dick up in heaven with you my beloved husband. Joanne mumford

March 15, 2006

Patrolman Robert A. Mumford was my grandfather. He was a very courageous man of honor to all that knew him. His spirt lives on in Sherrill. The City of Sherrill named a park after Cheif Reilly and my grandfather next to the police station. During the summer it is a great place to hear music and see amazing fireworks. I think of both of them everytime I go to this park. Our family was very sadden to hear of the death of the police office in New Hartford. It brought back many sad memories to our family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Julie Sweet

March 15, 2006

I will always remember you Grampa. You were always so special and dear to me and all your Grandchildren,Sons and daughter n laws. Love Debbie

Deborah Kemp

March 2, 2006

Patrolman Mumford, my daughters and I are thinking of you as news of a fallen officer in our neighboring city of New Hartford has brought back all the heartbreak of your passing. We often think of you and your family members and offer our love for those remaining.

MARIE NORDBERG

March 1, 2006

MY BROTHER, I AM HONORED TO BE THE FIRST TO LEAVE YOU A REFLECTION. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND THOSE WHO SURVIVE YOU. YOU ARE A HERO FOR SURE. YOU HAVE SERVED WELL, NOW MAY YOU REST IN PEACE.

CHIEF RONNIE WATFORD-RET.
JEFFERSON POLICE DEPT,S.C.

September 9, 2005

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