May 01, 2013 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
The crime occurred near Buffalo. The perp’s vehicle had been rented in Fulton. The suspect’s family lived in Syracuse.
In spite of the disparate locales involved, Liverpool Police Officer Jerry Unger played a crucial role in cracking the case.
It all started about 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, when two women and a man were seen shoplifting at the Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store at Boulevard Mall in Amherst. Outside the mall, the male suspect pulled out a four-inch knife and lunged at two store security guards, cutting them both.
On Sept. 15, 2012, six weeks before he helped solve the Amherst assault case, Liverpool Police Officer Jerry Unger and his longtime girlfriend, Carrie Bond, welcomed their first son into the world.
Evan James Unger has a sister, 11-year-old Brooke, who held the Bible when her father was sworn in as a police officer at the Village Hall in June 2009.
One guard sustained a three-inch gash on his neck and the other was stabbed in the hip.
Despite their injuries, the guards jotted down the license plate number on the suspect’s car.
Town of Amherst Police tracked the vehicle, a Nissan Versa, to a motel in Tonawanda and impounded the car.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Nov. 5, a Syracuse woman who had rented the Nissan from Rent-A-Ride in Fulton, called the Rent-A-Ride office at 318 Oswego St. in Liverpool.
A Rent-A-Ride employee here alerted Amherst detectives that the woman planned to return the rented vehicle’s keys.
“She was going to return the keys,” reported Amherst Police Chief John Askey, “even though the rental car was in our custody.”
Det. Dan Quinlan called Liverpool Police and Officer Unger, a former Navy Seal who joined the LPD in 2009, answered the phone.
“Jerry just ran with it,” said Liverpool Police Chief Don Morris.
“I got the call at 2:45, and 40 minutes later a clerk from Rent-A-Ride in Liverpool advised me that she was there,” Unger said. “I drove over and asked her if she would talk to me about what happened in Buffalo. She agreed to talk, so we talked at the police station.”
“Officer Unger was able to establish a rapport with the female,” Askey observed.
“I told her, ‘I’m the only friend you’ve got. I’m the only one who can save you right now because the State Police are probably already banging on the door of your house right now,’” Unger said.
“I think I got her to trust me,” he added.
The lady apparently knew nothing about what happened in Buffalo, and she denied that her older brother had checked into a Tonawanda motel that weekend, Unger said. She soon deduced that her younger brother may have committed the Amherst crimes after borrowing the rental car and signing his brother’s name to the hotel register.
“It was her younger brother,” Unger said, “but she did the right thing.”
Within minutes, Unger had gathered the suspect’s name, date of birth, address and two cell phone numbers. A few minutes more and he came up with a photo.
“Det. Quinlan and Lt. Brian Miller in Amherst showed the picture to the guys who’d been stabbed and other witnesses, and they all made a positive ID,” Unger recalled.
The suspect, Dardrequez Haynes, 24, of 133 Parkway Drive in Syracuse, was soon arrested by Syracuse police.
“Officer Unger thoroughly interviewed the [sister], and he obtained crucial information that assisted with the timely identification of the offender,” wrote Amherst Police Chief John Askey in a Dec. 20, 2012 letter to the LPD.
For his work on the case, Unger received a Law Enforcement Commendation at the annual awards recognition ceremony hosted by the CNY Association of Chiefs of Police, Thursday, April 29, at Justin’s Grill, in East Syracuse.
LPD Sgt. Mike Manns, who was instrumental in hiring Unger here four years ago, is understandably proud of his protégé.
“The difference between a good cop and a great cop is taking those extra steps,” Manns said. “His work and his interviewing skills helped solve it for them. It’s a great example of inter-agency communication and cooperation.”
The Amherst chief agrees. “Due to the hard work and dedication to duty of Officer Unger a violent felon is now in custody,” Askey wrote.
Unger himself is not convinced he really deserves an award.
“I was just doing what I was supposed to do,” he said.