VOLNEY, NY – Five citizens were honored by the New York State Police Monday for their efforts to assist a local trooper as he fought to apprehend a violent man a year ago. Without their help, Sgt. Joseph Domagola said there is no way to guarantee that the situation would have turned out the same.
On June 23, 2007, as part of a domestic violence investigation, Domagola attempted to stop Ronald McCarthy, who was suspected of committing arson to his own residence early that morning.
Within minutes, McCarthy intentionally rammed his van into Domagola’s police vehicle on county Route 57. McCarthy attempted to gain entry into several vehicles at the scene before grabbing a 4×4 piece of lumber from the back of a truck, which he used to swing at the officer.
An enraged McCarthy then initiated a struggle with the officer as he attempted to gain control of Domagola’s weapon. The gun malfunctioned, however, and Domagola was able to take McCarthy into custody with the help of a citizen and another officer.
“We want to give appreciation to the community that took the time (to help),” Major Donald L.X. DePass Jr., Troop D Commander, said.
Mary A. Manning was in her car and pulled to the side of the road after witnessing the motor vehicle accident and the struggle between McCarthy and Domagola. DePass explained that she immediately called 911 to report the incident and stayed on the scene and on the phone with the emergency center until McCarthy was taken into custody.
“It was very scary,” Manning said.
“When you thing about what could have happened, you just thank God that (Domagola) had a guardian angel and it turned out the way it did,” Manning said.
Paul A. Dievendorf was watching the struggle from his pick-up truck and said he was not sure what was happening in front of him. McCarthy also ran to his vehicle, pulled open the door and told him to get out.
“I said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“What for?” Dievendorf said. McCarthy attempted to throw Dievendorf from the vehicle, however, Dievendorf resisted by holding onto the steering wheel. McCarthy grabbed the 4×4 from Dievendorf’s truck bed and started swinging it at Domagola.
“I didn’t have any idea what was going on,” Dievendorf recalled. He noted, however, that he had no thoughts of trying to leave the scene as the incident unfolded and remained there until McCarthy was apprehended.
Shanon M. Henderson drove upon the scene as Domagola and McCarthy were wrestling for Domagola’s weapon.
“Without regard for your own safety, you slowed your vehicle and screamed at Mr. McCarthy, which distracted him and allowed for Sgt. Domagola to gain control of the handgun,” DePass explained. She then contacted 911.
Henderson said she does not recall initially processing what was happening.
“I just reacted,” Henderson said.
“I did what I had to do, as I hope anyone else would do,” she added. “It was a huge, terrifying event. I am glad it turned out the way it did.”
Henderson noted that she was grateful for the recognition for her efforts.
Carol L. Miller and Steven A. Miller, who were not able to attend the ceremony, were also recognized. As the couple drove onto the scene, Carol Miller contacted 911 as Steven Miller left his vehicle to help. Miller and Investigator Scott Harrington assisted Domagola in wrestling McCarthy to the ground so that he could be handcuffed.
Domagola, who has been an officer with the state police for more than 16 years, said that he has been in dangerous situations before, but nothing that elevated to the extent that this incident did. He pointed out that he was sure that McCarthy’s rage would have been directed toward his family, specifically his wife, if he wasn’t stopped that afternoon.
Domagola said that he was grateful to the citizens who went “above and beyond” what was expected of them on the scene.
“This was very dangerous for them also,” Domagola said. “They were in harm’s way.”
Domagola said while their efforts individually may seem small to some, the collective efforts of all of those who helped him may have changed what could have been the outcome.
“I was in the fight for my life. … My safety was clearly secondary to him,” Domagola said. “Without their assistance, I’m not sure that this would have had a good outcome.”
Domagola said that while he can remember the details, part of his job is putting situations behind him.
“This was the best possible scenario,” he stressed.
Domagola was among a group of 39 honorees who were recognized during the New York State Police Annual Awards Day Ceremony in Albany last month.
Rather than face the 18-count indictment that was brought against him at trial, McCarthy pleaded guilty in January to aggravated attempted murder and third-degree arson. McCarthy was sentenced to serve 22 years to life in prison.