A retired Glen Cove City police officer shot dead upstate allegedly by his special-needs son was a doting father who was "incredibly supportive" of his son, a former colleague recalled Friday.
Upstate police say that the shooting victim, Salvatore Taranto, 58, was shot "multiple times" in the chest and torso Tuesday in their home northwest of Ithaca, at the hands of his son, Matthew, 28.
"The father was always in that child's corner," said the colleague, Glen Cove Police Chief William Whitton, who said he knows the family well and worked with the elder Taranto almost his entire career.
The son was arrested by police in Trumansburg, a village of about 1,500 in the Town of Ulysses in rural Tompkins County. He pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder at his arraignment Wednesday in Ulysses Town Court and was remanded without bail to the Tompkins County Jail. His next appearance is scheduled for Monday.
His attorney, Scott Miller of Ithaca, said the son, who has Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, feared the father because of prior incidents of abuse. Earlier in the day, the father allegedly entered his room, pointed a handgun at him and "told him he could kill him any time he wanted," Miller said Friday.
Miller did not say how long afterward the shooting occurred.
Trumansburg Police Chief Thomas L. Ferretti declined to comment on Miller's assertion that the father had pointed a gun at the son but said, "Matthew's indicated to us that he was scared of his father."
Ferretti said that the son admitted to police he shot his father.
After the shooting, police said, the elder Taranto ran out of the house and yelled, "Help! Help me! I'm dying."
He was taken to Cayuga Medical Center, but died there.
Police in Trumansburg said there were no previous incidents of violence at the Taranto home, and a check of criminal records found no recorded incidents of domestic violence involving the family.
The Ithaca Journal reported the shooting happened while Camille Taranto, the victim's wife and the younger Taranto's mother, was out of town. Attempts to reach her have not been successful.
Taranto was hired by the Glen Cove Police Department on March 16, 1981, and he retired April 1, 2003.
Real estate records obtained Friday show that the Tarantos lived in Oyster Bay before they moved to Trumansburg.