CLARENDON – First came the jarring sounds of a car crashing into a telephone pole Saturday.
Then neighbors heard gunfire – which ended with an Orleans County deputy sheriff killing a gunman, according to officials.
Even then, the neighbors weren’t sure what was happening in their Orleans County town of Clarendon.
“I think the car hitting the telephone pole woke me up,” said Donna J. Bopp of Fourth Section Road. “There was just ruckus, and then you could hear the sirens from the fire company.”
Bopp said she was still in bed when she heard other noises. “I heard a shot. I thought they were killing a deer,” Bopp said.
She said it’s not unusual for cars to collide with deer in the rural, wooded area south of the Village of Holley.
Then she heard a second shot.
“I thought, ‘They didn’t kill the deer the first time?’ ” Bopp recalled.
A few seconds later, she heard a large number of shots.
The shootout in the woods early Saturday between the Orleans County sheriff’s deputy and James Ellis, 44, of Wyoming County, ended when the wounded deputy killed Ellis.
The Sheriff’s Office said Ellis was pronounced dead at the scene. He shot Deputy James DeFilipps twice in the abdomen, but the deputy’s bulletproof vest saved DeFilipps from serious injury.
DeFilipps was later released after treatment for minor injuries at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
The gunfire followed a cross-county chase, which began after a woman in the Town of Shelby, in western Orleans County, called 911 to report a man with a gun at her home.
Ellis left before police could arrive at the Shelby home, but his car was seen speeding east on Route 31A in Albion. Ellis managed to elude deputies for a time, but his car ran off Fourth Section Road in the Town of Clarendon, in eastern Orleans County, and smashed into a telephone pole.
Bopp said the crash occurred in the front yard of her neighbor at about 3 a.m.
“Apparently (Ellis) was up in the woods,” Bopp said. “They wouldn’t have seen him if it weren’t for the (flashes of the) shots.”
Deputies reported that Ellis, armed with a .45-caliber handgun, began shooting at deputies. DeFilipps got out of his patrol car, took cover behind the car and then headed into the woods, where he confronted Ellis.
Ellis shot DeFilipps twice before the deputy returned fire.
Bopp said Ellis was killed on her family’s property on the opposite side of Fourth Section Road from her home. She said her 82-year-old mother saw the gun flashes from her upstairs window of the Bopp home.
“She was pretty shook up,” Bopp said.