WATERTOWN — Police say a third person was inside the realty business where a man shot and killed two people Wednesday afternoon. He then apparently left in under a minute.
Detective Lt. Joseph R. Donoghue Sr. with the Watertown Police Department revealed the new information when he invited reporters to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building on Thursday afternoon for a press conference about the fatal shooting that occurred Wednesday in Watertown.
Shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday, Barry K. Stewart, 55, of West Carthage, entered Bridgeview Real Estate Services, 145 Clinton St., Suite 111, and allegedly shot the two owners with what appeared to be a handgun. Maxine M. Quigg, 50, of Wellesley Island, and Terence M. O’Brien, 53, of Black River, were dead by the time police arrived on the scene.
Stewart, former military who’s known by friends as nice, humourous and opinionated, then got into his Ford F-150 truck, which surveillance showed, and drove off. He made it about 95 miles to Franklin County, near where it borders with St. Lawrence County, before a state trooper noticed his plates and attempted to pull him over. That’s when Stewart died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Detective Lt. Donoghue said he got an email that stated Stewart had died nearly four hours after the shooting.
Back in Watertown, officers had responded quickly to the scene, forming teams and clearing the Clinton Street building. Then they called virtually every law enforcement agency in Jefferson County and beyond to either come to the scene or begin searching for Stewart, highlighting the team effort and relationships between departments they had to still find the alleged shooter hours after the incident.
Detective Lt. Donoghue said he doesn’t know if Stewart actively decided not to shoot the third person.
“We may never know,” he said.
Mr. O’Brien’s brother, Dennis, is a sergeant with the city police department.
“It is hard for a lot of the officers,” Detective Lt. Donoghue said Thursday. “We’re friends with Dennis. Both the victims were well known in this city, and we will work with the families.”
The handgun that was discovered with Stewart was licensed to him, and he was the only person to fire, Detective Lt. Donoghue said. The detective lieutenant said he couldn’t get into a motive right now, or various other topics, mainly out of respect to those involved. He did say that information could come in the ensuing weeks.
“We are not alone in this unfortunately,” he said. “These events occur daily now. We hope that they will not repeat themselves. When this is done, we will look back at what we have done and we will try to see where we can improve in areas and see if we can assist people.”
Rande S. Richardson, executive director of the Northern New York Community Foundation, knew Mr. O’Brien and Mrs. Quigg well. Mrs. Quigg became a board member at the foundation in 2019 and had served on various committees before that. He knew Mr. O’Brien through working in the community together.
“You always knew when you were with them that, while they were incredibly committed to their profession,” he said, “there was always an understanding of a responsibility to their community and that they cared about the people who had lived here for years and those that were new to the community.”
He said they were heavily involved in charity through the foundation, as well as efforts to supply goods to food pantries across the region. They also supported various scholarship funds and other initiatives that involved education and youth. He also said that because of the role Mrs. Quigg played, their board will be discussing ways they can acknowledge and appropriately observe her contributions to their organization and those they serve, he said. Because it was all about the fact a vibrant quality of life was important to people.
“That was always embedded in my interactions with them,” he said, “you know, ‘What more can we do beyond just the basics?’”