Source close to Waterloo gunman says authorities dropped the ball

July 12, 2018 05:58 AM

As neighbors in Waterloo mourn Tuesday’s double-homicide victims, which left a third person hospitalized, a person close to the gunman believes authorities dropped the ball. 

“This was a proven pattern of abuse and it’s senseless because it could have been stopped,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. 

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According to police, the three victims had just returned to a Virginia Street home in Waterloo when the suspect Emerson Tohafjian, 48, ambushed them. 

After killing two, and injuring a third, Tohafjian then took off and took refuge at the Cheerful Valley Campgrounds.

Police eventually coaxed him out and rushed him to the hospital for self-inflicted wounds to his arms and neck. But this wasn’t Tohafjian’s first run-in with police – the source tells us even neighbors were well aware of his violent tendencies. 

“Maybe if there was no bail or it was too high to post these people would still be alive,” said the source referencing Tohafjian’s recent arrests. 

The alleged suspect had two recent arrests in June for domestic violence. 

The Seneca County Sheriff’s Office arrested Tohafjian on June 3. The Town of Varick charged him with assault in the third degree, criminal obstruction of breathing, menacing, and criminal mischief. 

Tohafjian was remanded to the Seneca County Correctional Facility on a $500 cash bail or $1,000 bond, which was posted. An order of protection was also issued to protect the victim. 

Despite the order of protection, the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office arrested Tohafjian again on June 19 for another domestic violence incident in the Town of Fayette. Tohafjian was alleged to have choked the female, threatened to kill her, forcibly raped her and also injured her cat by throwing a cat carrier while the animal was inside. 

Tohafjian was charged with first-degree rape, a felony; first-degree unlawful imprisonment, also a felony; criminal obstruction of breathing, and cruelty to animals.

Tohafjian was once again sent to the Seneca County Correctional Facility on a $10,000 cash bail and $20,000 bond which was once again posted.  

While police wouldn’t confirm that the victim in those two incidents is the same killed Tuesday, the source tells News10NBC it is. 

“We're looking for answers and are disgusted it even happened at all,” said the source. “Somebody dropped the ball.” 

Joan Richardson, a neighbor that lives near the shooting, was good friends with two of the victims – one now deceased. 

“It was senseless,” said Richardson. 

She didn’t know the girlfriend personally but says she was aware of the situation. “This man had threatened to do this to this woman for years and I guess there was no stopping him,” said Richardson. 

News10NBC caught up with the cab company responsible for calling police about the shooting. The driver who dropped the three victim’s home called 911 after seeing a man jump out of the bushes with a gun. 

“He saw the suspect jump out of the bushes with a gun and we automatically knew who it was,” an employee of the cab company said.

The person with the company tells News10NBC that Tohafjian was banned from their taxi service because of how he would treat his girlfriend and their staff while in their vehicles. 

New York State Police, the Seneca County District Attorney’s Office, and Waterloo Police will have another update to the case on Thursday morning.  


Beth Cefalu

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