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Troubled background for armed man shot to death by deputy in Pembroke

Well before his life ended in a restaurant parking lot in Pembroke, trouble had a way of finding Keith A. Kent.

Kent recently mailed a rambling, five-page letter to the Batavia Daily News marked by threats of violence.

Years before that, he was prosecuted but never convicted for his role in a property dispute in Orleans County, leading to lasting animosity toward the county district attorney.

And, in the early 2000s, he accused a rival business owner of threatening and bullying him in a racketeering case that ended up in federal district court.

All of that was a prelude to Wednesday night, when a Genesee County sheriff's deputy shot the 61-year-old Albion man to death outside the Indian Falls Log Cabin restaurant on Gilmore Road.

The Genesee County Sheriff's Office on Friday identified the deputy who shot and killed Kent as Ryan W. Young, a six-year law enforcement veteran who has served with the Sheriff's Office since 2016.

Deputies had responded to a 911 call of a man causing a disturbance and refusing to leave, and they learned on their way that shots were fired and the subject had a gun.

"Officers confronted the suspect, gave him numerous commands to drop the gun," Genesee County Undersheriff Gregory Walker said at a Thursday morning news conference. "He did not comply and the officers had to shoot and did kill the subject."

This is the department's first officer-involved shooting in at least 43 years. Officials have not identified the deputy who fired the fatal shot.

The male deputy is taking some time off and will be assigned to administrative duties when he returns, the Batavia Daily News reported.

"Again, I can't stress how early this is in the investigation," said State Police Major Edward Kennedy, whose department is leading the shooting probe at the request of the Sheriff's Office. "We're thankful no one else was injured."

Deputies who arrived at the restaurant parking lot around 11 p.m. Wednesday saw the suspect, who fired a shot as they arrived, Walker said.

Authorities did not specify in what direction the shot was taken. Troopers also were responding at the time gunfire was exchanged, according to the State Police.

Kent, who was armed with a handgun, was yelling threats.

"He was asking them to come out for a fight and also making comments of 'where are the police?' " Walker said, and a deputy fired the fatal shot soon after.

About nine people, including customers and employees, were inside the restaurant at the time. No one in the restaurant was injured, police said.

Police would not say how many officers at the scene may have fired. Genesee County deputies were wearing body cameras, and footage of the shooting is being reviewed.

Genesee County deputies don't have dashcams in their vehicles, and troopers have neither body cameras nor dashcams.

"There's a lot we can't comment on," Kennedy said. "This is currently an active crime scene."

"It is in the very early stages of an investigation," he said. "This is a tragedy for everyone. That's the best we can give you right now. We are not going to comment on the number of rounds that were fired, who fired, how many officers were there, whether there were people that were armed inside or outside that establishment."

Kent apparently had a long list of grievances against local media and authorities.

The Batavia Daily News reported Thursday that it had been in recent contact with Kent, who the newspaper said made "vague threats of violence in rambling letters."

The Daily News reported it had received a five-page letter from Kent dated March 30, describing its contents as "a rambling letter detailing events going back nearly 10 years ago involving his logging company and subsequent arrest for bilking a woman out of money."

"He complains repeatedly about Orleans County District Attorney Joseph Cardone and at one point in the letter says 'I have been driven to the brink of COMPLETE INSANITY over this and it will end soon,' " the Daily News reported.

John Anderson, the paper's managing editor, posted a photograph of the signature from the letter on Twitter.

"The man Genesee County Sheriff deputies shot in Pembroke sent us a letter angry we did not write about him to 'clear' his prior arrests and said, 'may the blood be on your hands.' He was mad at us, police and POTUS for some reason," Anderson tweeted.

Cardone, the Orleans County DA, said the dispute Kent referred to involved the cutting down of some trees on a woman's property in the Town of Barre. The case was presented to a grand jury and a charge of tampering with evidence was later dismissed by an Orleans County judge, Cardone said.

"I feel very badly for the Kent family that they lost their loved one," Cardone said.

In 2007, Kent testified in federal court against a Niagara County businessman in a racketeering case.

Kent accused the defendant, David Cain Jr., a rival logging and tree-trimming business owner, of threatening, bullying, setting fires and vandalizing his properties in 2000 and 2001. Cain was convicted of 17 felony charges.

Kent's brother, Gary, is a former Orleans County legislator, the Daily News reported.

A woman who identified herself as a daughter of Kent declined to speak by phone with a reporter.

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