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Cops: Hempstead PD employee shoots ex-girlfriend, self

Karolyn Encarnacion, who Suffolk police said was fatally

Karolyn Encarnacion, who Suffolk police said was fatally shot by ex-boyfriend James Snead, is seen in a 2009 photo. Photo Credit: Handout

A civilian member of the Hempstead Police Department who carried a "fugitive recovery agent" badge fatally shot his ex-girlfriend and himself as her children were in the next room, Suffolk police said Thursday.

James Snead, 43, a longtime community aide and volunteer firefighter in Hempstead, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot in the bedroom of Karolyn Encarnacion, 42, who died nearby, police said.

Encarnacion's daughters, ages 12 and 14, were in their bedroom at Fairfield Eastbrook Gardens in Bay Shore with three friends shortly before midnight Wednesday as he opened fire, police said.

"The kids just heard her scream and then shots," said Det. Lt. Gerard Pelkofsky of the Homicide Squad. "They didn't hear an argument."

A neighbor who asked not to be identified said the girls were hysterical and "in shock" as they pounded on the neighbor's door to say their mother had been shot. "She was very dedicated to her daughters," said the neighbor.

A person who answered the door at an Encarnacion family member's house said, "We want to grieve in private."

The children are in the care of their grandfather, police said.

Encarnacion and Snead, who is married, broke up in recent months, but Snead was known to still frequent her apartment, police said. There was no history of domestic disturbances at the house, Pelkofsky said.

In addition to Hempstead police and fire department identification cards, Snead was carrying at the time of his death a badge and picture ID identifying him as a "fugitive recovery agent," also known as a bounty hunter.

No one named James Snead has a bail enforcement agent license, said New York Department of State spokesman Joel Barkin. The card did not bear the name of the Department of State, as is required of valid licenses, or the name of any other agency.

Snead was a civilian employee of the Hempstead Police Department for more than 16 years, said Chief Joseph Wing. As a neighborhood aide, he issued parking tickets and worked at school crossings. He was not issued a department weapon. Suffolk police said Snead had a permit for the .38-caliber revolver found with his body.

"Our sympathies go out to both families, obviously, in a situation like this," Wing said. Attempts to contact Snead's family were unsuccessful.

At the Hempstead Fire Department, where Snead had been a volunteer since 1993, the news was greeted with shock, said Chief Karl Rugg, who called Snead "a happy-go-lucky guy."

Snead listed the name Running Wolf on a business card and online directory for independent bail bondsmen. He was twice elected a company captain at the fire department.

"He was a very strong leader, a very energetic firefighter and a very active member of this department," Rugg said.

With Ben Wieder, Yamiche Alcindor and Laura Rivera

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