Trooper OK after being shot

The State Troopers PBA sends its best wishes for a quick recovery to Trooper Sean Finn of Troop B, who was shot in the hands and along the side of his head on Friday night as he searched for a man who fled from a traffic stop after reportedly leading Troopers on a chase in a stolen vehicle.

Trooper Finn underwent surgery following the incident and has been released from the hospital. A 7-year veteran of the New York State Police, Trooper Finn is stationed at SP Plattsburgh. The photo above is of Trooper Sean Finn and his wife, Trooper Rebecca Finn, getting out of a helicopter after their return flight from the hospital.

The man who allegedly shot Trooper Finn was apprehended on Saturday afternoon and later charged with attempted murder.

This latest incident is a reminder to everyone how the job of a New York State Trooper is dangerous and unpredictable. Troopers put their lives on the line each and every day to serve and protect the public.

Below is an article from the Press-Republican newspaper of Plattsburgh that was printed on September 11, which details more of the incident.

Contributing Writers

PLATTSBURGH — A massive police hunt for armed fugitive Vladimir A. Kulakov who allegedly shot a state trooper ended about 12:45 p.m. Saturday after a multi-agency task force cornered him in Pottersville.

The suspect had sped through two counties and into a third before being apprehended.

Trooper shot in Head

Kulakov had allegedly shot a trooper near Tom Miller Road in Plattsburgh at 9:23 p.m. Friday.

Trooper Ryan L. Johnston attempted to pull over a 1989 Ford reported stolen Sept. 2, into the Baymont Inn parking lot.

After coming to a stop, the Ford, driven by Kulakov, sped off. Johnston then initiated a slow-speed pursuit with lights and siren on.

Kulakov pulled over by 355 Tom Miller Road with Johnston right behind him.

By that time Trooper Sean. R. Finn, 34, joined the pursuit and pulled in front of Kulakov’s car.

The suspect then ran into nearby woods with both troopers following him.

Finn located Kulakov in some bushes after he heard rustling. The trooper held a flashlight with his right hand and pointed it downward. As he moved the shrubbery away with his left arm he saw Kulakov with a handgun.

The suspect fired two shots as Finn tried to block his face with his arms. One of the bullets hit his hands and grazed the left side of his head.

Finn and Johnston then returned to their cars to call an ambulance and radio for more help.

Finn was immediately taken to CVPH Medical Center then flown to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington for treatment of the head injury.

The seven-year State Police veteran had surgery on his right hand and was released and flown back to Plattsburgh.

"He’s doing outstanding," Troop B Commander Major Peter Person said.

A loaded assault rifle was found in the car Kulakov abandoned.

Intense search

A one-square-mile perimeter of roadblocks was set up within minutes, which stretched from Tom Miller Road to Route 190 and Route 3.

Numerous law-enforcement agencies were called to aid in the search including FBI, DEA, Plattsburgh City Police, Plattsburgh State University Police as well as the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs Border Protection. There were about 75 people involved in the search.

Phone calls flooded the State Police tip hot line. Saturday morning, a Sunoco gas station customer called and reported seeing someone matching Kulakov’s description at the station filling up a pickup truck.

Late Friday night, Kulakov stole a Chevrolet pickup from outside Red Barn Auto in Morrisonville. The vehicle was unlocked with the keys in the driver’s seat visor.

Frank Davis, 52, the owner of the shop, realized his car was missing 9 a.m. Saturday and called police.

"The troopers put two and two together and figured out it must have been this guy (Kulakov) that stole it," Davis said. "Things like these aren’t supposed to happen here."

After the Sunoco call came in, State Police chased Kulakov to Interstate 87 southbound Exit 26 at Pottersville.

Troopers used dogs and helicopters after Kulakov abandoned the stolen vehicle and fled into the woods on foot not far from the exit ramp.

Eyewitness reports said the first trooper cars sped into Pottersville at around 10:30 a.m.

Paul Bubar, owner of the Wells House, an inn located in the village center, was standing on the porch of the inn when he saw two police cars pull over, lights flashing, in front of his residence about 50 yards away.

"All of a sudden there were six or seven, and pretty soon there were helicopters circling overhead."

Bubar and a few guests suspected the armed fugitive was nearby.

"Some of our guests had seen the news reports," Bubar said.

Scores of officers guarded Route 9, which was also filled with weekend traffic.

Police held a tight perimeter with rifles ready under the circling helicopters.

A barricade of various law enforcement vehicles closed the entrance to the lumberyard.

A situation command post was established at the Pottersville Firehouse about a half-mile from the scene.

One state police helicopter and one military helicopter spiraled over the forest west of Route 9.

Oblivious to the danger, weekend travelers poured into town and bicyclists pulled into the Wells House for brunch.

"They shut off traffic here," Bubar said, pointing to the triangular intersection.

Traffic was closed for the better part of two hours while police scoured the area.

Bubar said most of the guests felt secure as they watched the action from the sunny porch.

"They all clapped when they heard he was caught. We have great faith in our sheriff and state police. Those guys put their lives on the line every day."

Police reopened Route 9 after apprehending Kulakov just before 1 p.m., though the site of the arrest remained closed to all but investigators. When he was arrested, Kulakov was carrying a .22 caliber pistol, two knives and a handcuff key.

Onlookers were not overly concerned about their safety.

Betty Wiebe, of Austin, Texas, stood on the porch and watched the action.

"It was kind of an exciting thing to see on vacation. I think the troopers do a good job up here in New York."

Bubar told his guests he could promise them a good meal, "but not excitement like this every day."

Heavy police escort

Kulakov was brought back to Plattsburgh and arraigned in Town Court Saturday evening.

Barefoot, wearing a black-and-white striped jumper, handcuffs and shackles, Kulakov shifted his weight as he stood in front of the judge.

After being charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree criminal use of a firearm, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree grand larceny and resisting arrest, Kulakov declined to have an attorney represent him.

But the court did appoint him legal council as an advisor.

If convicted, Kulakov may get a prison sentence of 25 years to life, for just the attempted murder charge.

Federal charges could be added.

"Kulakov has an extended history with law enforcement here and in Vermont," Person said.

In 1995, while still living in Vermont, Kulakov served a six-month jail sentence for mailing two packages of human feces to the then Gov. Howard Dean. In 1997, he was convicted in Clinton County for criminal possession of a weapon.

Kulakov was remanded to County Jail without bail.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday.

"Lucky for us, our trooper is injured and not dead," Person said. "There was a tremendous amount of effort involved."

Click here to view the story in the Press-Republican newspaper
Trooper Sean Finn, in the hospital scrubs, returns from the hospital with his wife, Trooper Rebecca Finn