Bridge named for police chief who died in the line of duty

DEXTER, New York (WWNY) – The Route 180 bridge in Dexter is now the Chief Samuel A. Johnson Sr. Bridge, named after the village police chief who was killed in the line of duty in 1987.

Thirty-five years ago, a shooting claimed the life of Dexter Police Chief Samuel Johnson, who villagers affectionately referred to as “J-44”.

Decades later, dozens of people have gathered to honor Johnson as the State Route 180 bridge connecting Dexter and the town of Hounsfield is named in his memory.

“You lose a member of your community in a tragic way, it is absolutely terrible. When I was offered to name this bridge after Sam, I said yes,” Dexter Mayor James Eves said.

State Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Mark Walczyk worked together to pass a bill naming the bridge after Johnson. The bill itself was gifted to Johnson’s sister, May Gould.

Johnson was 55 when he was killed in the line of duty and had given 13 years of service.

“If you were bad, you didn’t like it. If you were good, you liked it. I mean, it was as simple as that. Sam did his job and put in many hours without even being paid, but because he was doing his job, our community felt safer,” Eves said.

On September 11, 1987, Chief Johnson responded to Pillar Point after receiving reports that shots had been fired. A man was already dead. The shooter, Stuart Moss, then shot Chief Johnson in an ambush.

Moss led the police in pursuit of the murder scene before being shot himself. He survived his injuries.

“He crossed the village and came out at the other end. It was just sirens and screeching tires. It was not a good scene in the village. It was scary, actually scary,” Eves said.

Bill Hackett, a retired state police investigator, was at the scene that evening.

“I worked with Sam for about 13 to 14 years, but I knew him well before this incident happened. Sam was a good friend, a fellow police officer and I miss him,” he said.

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