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Man at large in shooting

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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The man police call a suspect in Sunday morning's shooting on Water Street remained at large this morning while police continued to investigate the incident that left a Fort Drum soldier with a gunshot wound to his leg.


Watertown police still were searching Sunday night for the suspect they believe was involved in the shooting at ABC Self-Storage, 632 Water St. He was identified as Leonard R. Whitfield, and police believe he has left the area, Lt. Frank J. Derrigo said Sunday night.


Calling it "domestic-related," Police Chief Joseph J. Goss said police know the name of the 25-year-old suspect and want to interview him about the shooting, which occurred shortly before 11 a.m.


"We are actively looking for him," Chief Goss said earlier Sunday.


Meanwhile, an unidentified 25-year-old man was being treated at Samaritan Medical Center for a gunshot wound to his leg. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.


Police became involved in the case after getting a report that a man was at the hospital with a gunshot wound, Chief Goss said.


Lt. Derrigo said the weapon, a .45-caliber handgun, was found inside an apartment — a duplex at 209 Central St. — the residence of the suspect's girlfriend. Police had stormed that apartment Sunday afternoon looking for the gunman.


Chief Goss said the incident involved three Fort Drum soldiers, two men and a woman. The wounded man, a former boyfriend of the woman, was at the storage site to meet her and exchange belongings, while the other soldier is involved with her now, Chief Goss said.


An argument ensued between the two men and the suspect fired multiple shots at the other man, Chief Goss said.


Fort Drum officials were notified about the incident.


The woman was interviewed by police Sunday afternoon at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building.


After talking Sunday to several witnesses who saw a green sport-utility vehicle in the area, police searched for the SUV and found it behind the duplex, Chief Goss said. A section of Central Street, from Bingham Avenue to Bronson Street, was blocked off for a couple of hours. After police made contact with the woman, members of the city police and Jefferson County Sheriff's Department search response teams entered the house about 2:30 p.m., without finding the suspect.


Police do not know if the man left on foot or was picked up from the duplex.


A Ford Explorer was towed from behind the duplex to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building, where investigators will check it for forensic evidence.


Erika A. Collins, who lives at 207 Central St., which is the other apartment in the duplex, was evacuated from the house Sunday. A family living across the street also left their home, but police told other neighbors in the vicinity to stay inside, Chief Goss said.


A crowd — some people taking photos with their cellphones — formed past a police barricade and watched as the police stormed the duplex.


Ms. Collins said police called her at home and told her she had to leave the house, but didn't tell her why. A few minutes later, a friend picked her up; she was allowed to return about 30 minutes later. She said her roommate wasn't home during the incident.


Ms. Collins, also a Fort Drum soldier, said that she moved into the duplex three months ago and that she doesn't know the people allegedly involved in the incident. Ms. Collins said the woman, who has a young daughter, moved into the house about two weeks ago and may have just returned from Afghanistan.


"She's quiet," Ms. Collins said. "She keeps to herself."


It's normally a quiet neighborhood, Ms. Collins said.

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