State Police: Cortland man threatened trooper with compound bow

WILLET — A city man was arrested Friday for threatening a state trooper with a drawn compound bow after he and his girlfriend were discovered living in another person’s Willet residence, according to police.

Michael Johnson, 38, and Elaine Smith, 38, were arrested after a trooper discovered them in the pre-dawn hours at a Mooney Hill home and Johnson threatened the officer with the bow, according to state police.

Troopers went to check on the residence at about 4 a.m. as state police were continuing to investigate the homeowner’s Tuesday report that someone had been living in his house, without his permission, police stated. 

The homeowner was away from his house for several days and returned home Tuesday to find other people’s personal belongings in his residence, said Trooper Aga Dembinska, the public information officer for the locally stationed state police. State police were called at 5:40 p.m. to the residence on Tuesday regarding the trespassers, according to state records.

Investigators were able to identify potential suspects from the left-behind belongings and troopers returned Friday to check on the home, Dembinska said.

It was three hours before sunrise when a trooper looked into a window of the residence and saw a man pointing a drawn compound bow at him, according to state police. Troopers called Cortland County Sheriff’s officers and a Cortland City Police officer to support them as they arrested the man, later identified as Johnson, police said.

Smith was also found at the Mooney Hill Road residence and arrested, according to state police records.

If struck with a compound bow at close range, the trooper could have suffered serious or deadly injuries, said Dr. Ian Dickey. Dickey is an emergency room doctor and orthopaedic surgeon who previously practiced at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center; he is also an adjunct professor of orthopaedic oncology and adult reconstruction at the University of Maine, where he is chair of the Bioengineering External Advisory Board, and is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at the University of Colorado.

Now this could be fatal if a torso wound,” said Dickey, who now practices in Colorado. “The arrows are able to inflict damage.”

Dickey noted the stress of current events — including COVID-19 and its financial effects — as well as access to recreational and legitimate drugs could contribute to an increase of violent attacks during these uncertain times.

Johnson was charged with first-degree criminal trespass, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and menacing a police officer, felonies, as well as the misdemeanor of second-degree menacing with a weapon. He was arraigned in Cortland County Court and remanded to the Cortland County Correctional Facility without bail.

Smith was charged with the misdemeanor second-degree criminal trespass and released on a ticket to appear on May 13 in Willet Town Court.