Slain Poughkeepsie Officer Mourned at Candlelight Vigil

More than 1,000 people gathered Sunday at a vigil to remember the Poughkeepsie police officer who was shot and killed confronting a gunman at the train station.

Meanwhile the mother of the gunman's wife -- whom he also gunned down -- is questioning why he was free after a January arrest for allegedly beating and choking her.

Officer John Falcone, an 18-year veteran of the force, died late Friday after being shot in the head while chasing the 27-year-old shooter, Lee Welch, who later killed himself, police said.

Police said Welch had just shot and killed his wife, 28-year-old Jessica Welch, when he encountered Falcone. Welch was carrying his three-year-old girl, and Falcone took her away from the gunman before he was shot. The child was not hurt.

Welch and his wife had a history of domestic incidents in Catskill and had recently separated. Just weeks ago she moved to Mount Vernon from Catskill with the couple's three children to get away from him, said Police Chief Ron Knapp.

Jessica's mother, Lisa Nieves, cried Sunday about what she called the "vicious cycle" that is domestic abuse.

"I just wish that people in law enforcement -- not so much police but the judges who keep letting these guys out -- just have a wake up call that this just can't keep happening," Nieves said.

The evening vigil began behind City Hall and proceeded to the Poughkeepsie train station where the melee erupted Friday afternoon. Some 1,000 people attended.

Police believe the couple met at the train station Friday in Poughkeepsie so Jessica could retrieve her car from her husband. That's when he shot her, police said.

Officers responded to a report of gunfire at about 1 p.m. and one saw the gunman leaving the scene with a child in his arms.

Falcone, 44, was killed by a single gunshot wound, the Dutchess County medical examiner said.

He lived in Marlboro and was not married.  His funeral is scheduled for Thursday at St. James the Apostle Church in Carmel.

The three Welch children are now in the custody of Jessica's father in Mount Vernon.

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