A Putnam County man is accused of intentionally hitting a New York state trooper conducting a traffic stop on Thursday. Police said the trooper died instantly.
Almond Upton III, 60, admitted to police that he deliberately swerved his pickup truck from the left passing lane to the right shoulder to hit Trooper Christopher Skinner, 42, on Interstate 81 near Binghamton around noon, police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said.
Upton had sideswiped two other vehicles with his 2014 Toyota Tacoma, D'Amico said.
He was taken into custody an hour later after a police dog tracked him into nearby woods, where he was found naked. Police said he didn't appear to be drunk or on drugs.
D'Amico said it was unclear what the motive was for striking the trooper. He said Upton told police he was driving to Connecticut to visit his mother.
Upton is from Melrose, which is just east of Gainesville and sits near the junction of Alachua, Bradford, Clay and Putnam Counties. The only local arrest News4Jax could find for Upton was a charge for DUI in Clay County in 2008.
Upton was arraigned on a count of first-degree murder in Town of Chenango Court. He was ordered held without bail. It could not immediately be determined if he had a lawyer.
WSYR-TV in New York said as police led Upton away, he told a reporter, "I was 2 miles from the Connecticut border and all of a sudden I'm in Binghamton, New York and this cop got killed. I don't know how it happened, but it had to be a time warp, honestly."
In Melrose on Friday, the address listed for Upton was vacant and the few residents who knew who he was said they didn't know him well and didn't think he lived there full time.
"I don't see him that often," said Robin Chiappini, who runs a store nearby. "(He) comes in about four or five times a year. That's all I remember about him."
Skinner was from the Sidney barracks in Delaware County and was a 13-year veteran. The Binghamton resident is survived by his fiancée and two children, ages 12 and 15.
In 2011, New York instituted a Move Over law, requiring motorists to slow down and move over when approaching police and emergency vehicles alongside roadways.
Skinner is the second New York state trooper killed in a highway crash in the past six months. Trooper David Cunniff died in December from injuries he suffered when his cruiser was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer shortly after he pulled over a car for speeding on the state Thruway near Amsterdam.
In April, Trooper Todd Madley escaped serious injury after a car sideswiped his cruiser while he wrote a traffic ticket along Interstate 690 near Syracuse. The driver was ticketed for violating the Move Over law.
Skinner is the 15th member of the New York State Police to die in the line of duty since 2006, and his is the fifth line-of-duty death in the last 10 months, said the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers.