Police identify man in fatal shooting
Deputy James DeFilipps shot twice, but OK due to bullet-proof vest
CLARENDON – A Wyoming County man who opened fire on law enforcement officers was shot dead early this morning.
James J. Ellis, 44, of Wyoming crashed his vehicle into a telephone pole on Route 31A in Clarendon at about 3 a.m. Police discovered the wreck in a neighbor’s front yard while looking for Ellis. When Deputy James DeFilipps left his patrol car to search for Ellis, the suspect opened fire from a wooded area near the vehicle, Sheriff Scott Hess said.
Deputy DeFilipps was shot twice in the abdomen, and then managed to fatally shoot Ellis. DeFilipps was taken from the scene by ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital. He was treated for minor injuries and released, Hess said.
“Fortunately he was hit in the vest,” Hess told reporters at a press conference at about 10:30 a.m. today. “He’s doing fine.”
Ellis was involved in a domestic disturbance prior to the shooting. He was at an ex-girlfriend’s house in Shelby. Her friends were concerned and called 911 at 2:46 a.m. to report the incident, saying that Ellis had a gun.
The Sheriff’s Department and State Police were given a vehicle and suspect description. The vehicle was observed eastbound on Route 31A in the Town of Albion. Officers were unable to maintain visual contact with the vehicle due to the suspect’s high rate of speed, Hess said.
Responding officers located the vehicle on Route 31A in the Town of Clarendon. The suspect had crashed his vehicle after leaving the roadway, striking a telephone pole. Ellis was in a wooded area with a .45 caliber handgun. He started firing at responding officers when they reached the scene, a dark stretch of Route 31A, Chief Deputy Tom Drennan said.
The officers couldn’t see Ellis, but heard his gun shots and could tell the bullets were close, Drennan said.
Deputy James DeFilipps took cover behind his patrol vehicle, then took further cover into a wooded area near the road. While proceeding to the wooded area, DeFilipps confronted Ellis a short distance away. Ellis shot the deputy twice in the abdomen. DeFilipps returned fire with his weapon, killing Ellis, Hess said.
“The whole thing lasted seconds,” Drennan said.
Ellis’s body was taken to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. That report, plus evidence at the scene, should provide more details about the incident, which remains under investigation, Drennan said.
DeFilipps is a 12-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department. He was patrolling the eastern section of Orleans County last night. He started his career with the Holley Police Department.
District Attorney Joe Cardone said the incident would be reviewed by the grand jury “to make sure everything was handled properly.”
The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by the New York State Police, Albion Police, Holley Police, Orleans County Major Felony Crimes Task Force and Clarendon Fire Company.