Wounded troopers honored at Delaware County Shields event
By Brian Sweeney
Two New York State Troopers who were shot last April in Margaretville have been honored by the Delaware County Shields.
Troopers Matthew Gombosi and Richard Mattson received special recognition plaques last Tuesday in a ceremony at the Olde Caledonia Restaurant in Delhi. The honored troopers were cited for their work last spring during a tragic series of events that took place April 24 and 25 near Margaretville.
The episode began on the afternoon of April 24 when Trooper Gombosi was shot by Travis Trim during a traffic stop at the Margaretville Country Store. Although he was shot in the chest at point-blank range, the trooper escaped injury when the bullet from the small-caliber gun was stopped by his protective vest.
Trim was able to flee the scene and his van was found a short time later hidden in a wooded area of Searles Road, Margaretville. A manhunt ensued and Trim was located the following morning at an unoccupied farmhouse along Route 30 that served as a vacation home.
When police stormed the farmhouse, Trim exchanged gunfire with the troopers striking Trooper Mattson and Trooper David Brinkerhoff. An investigation of the incident revealed that after Trooper Brinkerhoff was hit by Trim‚Äôs gunfire, he fell forward and into the path of a bullet from a fellow trooper. He died from the injury a short time later.
Trooper Mattson has undergone several surgeries on his injured arm to repair extensive damage from the shooting.
Following the gun battle, hundreds of law enforcement personnel surrounded the farmhouse until early evening, uncertain whether Trim had been killed by the gunfire. Police eventually shot tear gas into the farmhouse and then stormed the building. The tear gas ignited bedding in the house and within a half-hour the structure was engulfed in flames.
Investigation of the scene after the fire revealed that Trim had been killed during the morning‚Äôs gunfire exchange.
The incident stunned everyone involved and left an indelible mark on local communities.
The plaques to the troopers were presented by Phil Seiden, president of the Delaware County Shields, a police benevolent association.
Trooper Gombosi recalled that he was shot by Trim in the gas station parking lot with no warning. The assailant had pulled a .22 caliber handgun from the waistband of his pants.
Although his vest protected Trooper Gombosi, was knocked backward by the impact before recovering his balance. The adjacent Margaretville Central School had just dismissed classes and the trooper gave chase, but did not want to shoot at Trim because of the danger posed to the school children.
Trim then fled in his van, abandoning the vehicle about a mile outside of the vehicle. An all-night search, involving hundreds of law enforcement personnel, followed before Trim was discovered in the farmhouse the following day and the tragic events unfolded.
Trooper Mattson was hit in the arm by a rifle shot from Trim. He has undergone four surgeries and said it‚Äôs unlikely he will regain the use of his hand.
He was initially treated at Margaretville Memorial Hospital where his bleeding was brought under control and then airlifted to Albany Medical Center.
At last week‚Äôs event, he credited local hospital personnel with saving his life.
‚ÄúWithout Margaretville Hospital, I wouldn‚Äôt be here,‚Äù Trooper Mattson told the gathering of about 40 Shields members and guests. ‚ÄúI owe them my life. My artery was destroyed and I had lost about five pints of blood. They were the best of the best that day.‚Äù
Trooper Brinkerhoff was hit in the protective vest, during the incident, but was killed when he fell and a bullet from a fellow trooper struck him in the back of the head, underneath his helmet. He was taken from the house by his fellow troopers but was pronounced dead a short time later.
In a related matter, State Senator John Bonacic announced last week that the Senate has unanimously passed legislation which designates a section of state Route 30 as the Trooper David Brinkerhoff Memorial Highway.
‚ÄúDesignating this highway is not only a token of our appreciation, it will serve as a reminder to us all, of the selfless act of heroism and courage Trooper Brinkerhoff has shown,‚Äù commented Sen. Bonacic. ‚ÄúThis designation in his honor will help to keep his memory alive.‚Äù