What led a school principal to barricade himself and fatally shoot Trooper Nicholas Clark remains unclear
On the hottest day of the year, a subtle breeze carried a stone cold silence.
Monday evening, communities spanning Steuben County lined streets and highways to send off a protector and revered figure in the community.
A procession of dozens of New York State Police vehicles escorted the body of Nicholas F. Clark home for a final time after the 29-year-old trooper was shot and killed early Monday morning while responding to a domestic dispute in the Town of Corning involving a suicidal man, according to authorities.
In Hornell, hundreds gathered in the streets along state Route 36 to say "goodbye", to say "thank you," and to pause in a moment of peaceful reflection for a fallen hero, as his body was borne to Canisteo.
As friends, family, colleagues and community members mourn the loss of Trooper Clark, the question remains: What led a school principal to open fire and kill a New York state trooper in Steuben County?
Investigators say Trooper Clark was shot and killed by 43-year-old Steven Kiley while responding to a domestic call early Monday morning.
According to a biography, which is no longer on the Bradford Central School District's website, Kiley had worked in the district since 2006. The school district superintendent said he had served as director of pupil services beginning in 2012 and had been K-12 principal since July 2016.
The shooting happened after authorities say Kiley's estranged wife called 911 from their home on Welch Road in Erwin, near Corning. His wife told police he was armed and contemplating suicide.
During the response, Trooper Clark was shot. Police say Kiley then killed himself.
New York State Police removed boxes of evidence from Kiley's home Tuesday.
As state police scour the home for clues, the department remains tight-lipped about what actually transpired between the 3:30 a.m. 911 call by Kiley's estranged wife up until the death of Trooper Clark and Kiley.
In an email of nearly two dozen questions to state police, including what kind of gun Kiley had and if any sort of shootout occurred, the short response back to News 10NBC was, "I'm not sure we are in a position to answer most of those questions. I will see if and when we will be speaking with the media."
On Tuesday, a neighbor told News 10NBC that he heard three or four loud bangs around 5:30 a.m. and knew they were gunshots. He also heard a final, single bang, at 8 a.m.
The neighbor says the couple lived in the home for at least six years and had a son. While he didn't know them personally he said they looked like a happy family, having a party at their home this past weekend.
As more answers are sought, the community where he grew up is gathering to remember Trooper Clark. He grew up in Canisteo, where his body was escored Monday night.
On its way southbound to the HP Smith & Sons Funeral Home in Canisteo, the procession passed under a massive American flag, hanging from the outstretched bucket of the Hornell Fire Department’s ladder truck.
In the trail of the procession, a long silence continued, as onlookers failed to find the words that would restore comfort and peace of mind in the wake of a senseless tragedy.
His hometown remembers the Canisteo-Greenwood High School graduate as an all-around athlete and now a hero.
“He’s a guy that would take the shirt off his back, money out of his wallet, really do anything for (people),” said Canisteo Village Patrolman Mark Ahearn, who grew up in Canisteo like Trooper Clark. “He’s the son that a mother, a father and a brother can be very proud of.”
Canisteo Police Chief Kyle Amidon said his and Nick’s friendship goes way back.
“Basically we were raised together,” Amidon said. “Youth wrestling, youth football, little league, all the sport all the the way up through. We both graduated from Canisteo-Greenwood High School together. We both wrestled after high school. He went to North Carolina at Greensboro for wrestling, I went to Alfred State for wrestling. But even then, we were still in contact daily.”
Amidon said people could always count on Trooper Clark.
“Nick is a great guy, I like to describe him as a heroic person, both on and off the field,” Amidon said.
John Marshall, superintendent of the Bradford Central School District, released a statement regarding the incident Tuesday morning saying in part, "I would like to offer our most sincere condolences to the family of Trooper Nicholas Clark. Trooper Clark was a hero, as are all men and women who serve in law enforcement." He would go on to add, "to our students, staff, community and all parties impacted by this tragedy, please know we are here to support you throughout this process. Again, our thoughts are with all families impacted by yesterday’s events."
Flags across the state at all government buildings are at half-staff for Trooper Clark. He had been on the force for three years before he was shot and killed.
Funeral arrangements have been set for Trooper Clark. Calling hours will be held on Saturday, July 7 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Alfred University, 99 N. Main St., Alfred, where a funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, July 8.
Includes reporting from The Leader reporter Jeff Smith and Daily Messenger news partner, News 10NBC