LAKE GEORGE - A county police officer was wounded early Tuesday morning during a gun battle with a fleeing suspect who was wanted in an earlier late-night shooting - and the exchange of bullets left the suspect dead.
Warren County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Ralph Bartlett of Chestertown, a 17-year veteran of the agency, was struck in the abdomen in the shootout, according to county Undersheriff Robert Swan.
Police identified the deceased suspect as Patrick E. Penders, 59, of Bloody Pond Rd., a convicted felon who served time in state prison for various offenses, including shooting at a state Trooper and a separate robbery incident.
The chase ended at about 12:30 a.m. at the intersection of state Rtes. 9 and 9N near Northway Exit 21 around the corner from Goony Golf after officers laid out spiked sticks to deflate the suspect's tires, Swan said.
At least four police cars from the state Police and county Sheriff's Office converged on his vehicle and police ordered Penders to exit his SUV, Swan said. He got out of his older Dodge SUV soon after, but he was wielding a handgun. Penders ignored orders to drop the gun and then he started firing at police, Swan said.
One other sergeant may have been hit by a bullet in the exchange, Swan said, but his bullet-proof vest deflected it. Bartlett was wearing a similar vest, but a bullet apparently bypassed it, causing the injury. Bartlett was treated at Glens Falls Hospital and released several hours later.
As many as 40 police officers, including the entire county Investigation division, were on the scene through early morning accumulating evidence, Swan said. Route 9N from Exit 21 to Route 9 was closed to traffic for at least five hours.
Penders' Dodge was removed from the scene and stored in a Sheriff's office garage. Swan said the SUV bore a lot of bullet holes.
The incident began in Warrensburg, when Penders was not welcome at the home of a female acquaintance, and he apparently started firing a gun at about 11:45 p.m., police said.
The woman first called the police and reported an "unwanted male" at her home, then called back several minutes later, saying he was shooting at her house, Swan said.
A police officer responding to the call then spotted Penders in his SUV on Schroon River Road, and Penders fled in his SUV, Swan said. The chase continued south on the Northway to Exit 21, and police several times tossed out the spiked sticks into Pender's route, but apparently he dodged them until the final showdown on 9N when his vehicle, driving on wheel rims, veered off the right side of the road.
Penders body was sent to Albany Medical Center for an autopsy, police said.
The last time an officer was injured in a shootout with a suspect was in the late 1970s, when officer Bob Pendas was injured by a bullet from a high-powered rifle, Swan said.
Bartlett is okay, but he's sore and will be off duty for several days, Swan said.
"Ralph's got to heal up from this injury," the undersheriff said. "He's a tough officer, and I'm sure he'll want to come back on duty right away."