Law enforcement agencies in New York have offered new information on the police pursuit and gun battle that ended in the death of a truck driver on Wednesday night.
Truck Driver Identified as Virginia Resident
On Thursday, the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office held a joint press conference with state and federal authorities to provide additional information on the officer-involved shooting incident.
They identified the truck driver who died after being shot by police as 58 year old Joshua Blessed of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Blessed’s previous name was Sergei Jourev, police said.
Police say that he worked for a Harrisonburg-based trucking company and that he was believed to have been en route to pick up a load of dairy products when the fatal pursuit occurred.
The pursuit started around 9 p.m. on Wednesday night in LeRoy, New York, when police attempted to pull over a tractor trailer for speeding. Blessed allegedly refused to comply with police and is said to have driven off with an officer still standing on his truck.
The police pursuit wove through three counties, with some of the pursuit taking place on I-390. Blessed performed several U-turns, rammed police vehicles, and fired multiple rounds at police officers.
Police later said that at least two police vehicles were rammed and four were shot. One vehicle was rammed 10 times by the semi truck.
— Tanner Jubenville (@13WHAMTANNER) May 28, 2020
Officers used spike strips to try to slow the truck.
The incident ended in a field near Route 20A in Geneseo after police with long guns fired multiple rounds into the cab of the truck.
Blessed was later pronounced dead at the scene.
No police officers or civilians were injured.
In the video below shot near the end of the pursuit, you can hear multiple rounds being fired.
NEW: A closer look at tractor trailer involved in chase with police in Livingston/Genesee Counties -bullet holes visible in windshield pic.twitter.com/UOTbvr93cf
— 13WHAM (@13WHAM) May 28, 2020
Motive Unclear, Social Media Posts Indicate Hostility Toward Police
When asked exactly how many rounds were fired during the gun battle, Livingston County Sheriff Tom Dougherty replied, “A lot. He fired a lot of shots and we fired a lot of shots.”
Dougherty says that agencies are working together to see what the last 24 hours of Blessed’s life was like to try to understand his behavior.
During the press conference, Dougherty pointed to several anti-law enforcement sentiments on Blessed’s social media pages.
Police say that the official cause of death has not yet been confirmed, but they did say that Blessed was hit by gunfire.
New York State Police and the F.B.I. are assisting in the ongoing investigation.