Massive Search Nets Suspected Shooter

By Erika Mahoney
By Haley Burton

October 12, 2012 Updated Oct 12, 2012 at 11:47 PM EDT

Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Anthony Augustine was nearing the end of his shift Thursday night, heading home to his wife and kids, when a bullet changed those plans.

It was just after 11 p.m., Oct. 11, when Augustine, a five-year veteran of the Ithaca Department, pulled over a man who police said was driving a stolen car in the West Hill area.

Police say that man was Jamel Booker, 22, of Ithaca.

Upon being pulled over, police say Booker jumped out of the car, and Augustine gave chase.

As the two entered the woods, police say Booker fired once at Augustine, hitting him in the upper left chest, just outside the reach of his bullet proof vest.

Booker then took off again.

"We are a small enough department where it's like a small family," said Deputy Chief John Barber. "We know each others' husbands, wives, kids and so on. So when one of ours takes a shot, takes a bullet, we come out of the wood work to help and support that officer."

Almost immediately, back-up arrived on scene, said Vallely.

And so did Ithaca Mayor Svante.

"It was an absolute honor to watch these men and women work," said Svante. "Our police chief, working well below his pay grade, for doing what had to be done, actually stopping traffic standing in the road and re-directing cars."

From there, a massive man hunt ensued, a search both on the ground and in the air. Fourteen different agencies came to help. Six hours later, Booker was located by SWAT and taken into custody.

"An incredibly effective investigation, last night, and we are very, very grateful to everyone that helped us," said Vallely. "And I think it should send a message to people that may think injuring a police officer, shooting a police officer is something they would consider. If that happens, we will never, ever, ever stop pursuing that person."

Booker's girlfriend, Kimberly Harden, said Booker had just been released from jail on a separate charge, and that she was at home when police stormed into her apartment.

"They threw him on the ground," Harden said. "We all went down to the bottom. They threw him on the ground. There was like 10 of them. Threw him on the ground and put handcuffs on him and took him to jail. He just got out..."

Officers and the mayor visited Augustine in the hospital following his two surgeries. They said his wife never left his side.

"She is just the definition of grace and poise," Svante said.

And although Augustine couldn't be in Ithaca to say it himself, he sent the mayor home with a message.

"He wanted me to say thank you, for all of the support he has gotten so far from the Ithaca Police Department, from the Syracuse department, and from everybody, all of the surrounding law enforcement agencies that responded."

Booker is charged with aggravated assault of a police officer and criminal use of a firearm.

There was no word on whether the gun Booker was carrying was recovered by police. Although they focused much of their search efforts during the day Friday on the apartment complex grounds, nearby Dumpsters and nearby woods.

Booker was arraigned in Tompkins County Superior Court and remains in the Tompkins County Jail on $1 million bail.

Anyone with information is asked to call Ithaca's 911 dispatch center or the IPD Anonymous Tip Line at (607) 697-0333.

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