The code officers were preparing to head home for the night.
After patrolling Port Jefferson village’s busy streets, the group was finishing their night shift — to end at 2 a.m. Saturday, June 19.
But four minutes before they were to get into their cars and drive home, shots were fired.
“We heard shots — you know, pop, pop, pop, And we were, like, that’s not fireworks … you could tell,” said code officer Wayne Bohm.
Code officer and detective James Murdocco, who has been with the village since 2013, headed to where the noises had come from. He was alone in his vehicle.
“I was flagged down,” he said. “I noticed the group — a gentleman came over yelling and screaming that somebody was shot.”
Murdocco parked and secured his car, quickly approaching the young victim. His partner, Brent Broere, tended to the second victim.
Murdocco said that upon arriving, he saw a male on the floor, shot twice — severely in his leg.
“The right leg was in pretty bad shape. He didn’t look good, and he lost a very good amount of blood,” he said.
He noticed that someone attempted to put a tourniquet on his leg, but it wasn’t working.
“I took it apart, redid it and made sure it was tight above the bullet wound,” he said. “At that point, I assessed him again. He was a little bit of in and out of consciousness — I believe because of either shock and the loss of blood.”
He, along with village chief of code, Fred Leute, decided then and there that time was of the essence and the man needed to get to the hospital right away.
“It decided to put him in a patrol car and take him to Stony Brook Hospital,” Murdocco said.
With Suffolk County police assisting by closing intersections, he said he drove as fast as he could along Route 25A, getting the bleeding victim in his back seat to safety.
“It felt like forever,” he said. “It was almost like an eternity in that car … it was a really tough car ride.”
Murdocco added that if it wasn’t for the training he has received on the force, along with Leute’s advising, he might have not been able to help save the victim’s life.
“The doctors pretty much said that if we hadn’t driven them, the likelihood is he wouldn’t have made it,” Leute said.
On the other side of the lot, Bohm began tending to the second victim, a young man shot in the abdomen with internal injuries.
“He was bleeding internally,” he said. “So, he was in kind of grave shape, but he was alert.”
While waiting for the ambulance, Bohm sat with the victim and helped him into the vehicle.
“Time is of the essence, especially internal injuries,” he said. “He needs surgery, that’s the only way you’re going to be able to control the bleeding.”
Relatively new to the constable team, Bohm has 20 years of law enforcement experience with the New York City Police Department. A 20-plus volunteer with the local fire department and EMS, he also worked at the emergency rooms of bothMather and St. Charles hospitals for a decade.
“I like to help people,” he said. “That’s why the joined the fire department, police department, worked in the emergency rooms. I’ve always helped people. That’s my goal in life.”
Officer Broere helped tend to his victim and, once he was stable, he noticed the fleeing car leaving the parking lot.
“I called in the description of the vehicle and the direction of where it was fleeing to,” he said.
“I heard Suffolk County PD officers start pulling cars over off the radio from that description.”
Broere, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who joined after the September 11 attacks, said anything can crop up while on the job.
“You take your shift off knowing that anything can obviously, possibly happen,” he said. But I mean, it’s a surreal experience.”
But he, along with his team who tended to the two victims, said thinking about the horror isn’t an option when a job has to be done.
“You go through the motions, what you’ve been taught, and your muscle memory,” he said. “And you don’t really think about it until after it’s over.”
Leute added that both victims are now stable, while the alleged shooter, 20-year-old Port Jefferson Station resident Ethan Ladd, was charged with two counts of assault in the first degree, a felony. He was arraigned at the First District Court in Central Islip on Monday, June 21, and released on $25,000 bail.
For a shift that was supposed to end early Saturday morning, the officers didn’t get home until a little past 6 a.m.
“They are true heroes,” said trustee Kathianne Snaden. “Not a lot of people would run toward gunfire, and they did. They put their lives in danger every single day and are always there to help.”
Murdocco noted that he and his code officers do more than what makes the news. Over the course of his tenure, he has assisted in seven Narcan saves when overdoses happen in the village.
Always working closely alongside the SCPD, when a call comes in through 911 — and code officers knowing it’s in village boundaries — they rush to the scene to assist.
Murdocco said just over three weeks ago another overdose happened on Main Street. He administered the Narcan, and luckily the young woman survived.
“And we’re within under a minute to get there,” he said. “It’s not like we’re waiting, looking with binoculars for somebody to park illegally and write them a ticket. We’re really responding to what we’re trained for.”