Teens killed in car by deputy in upstate New York were 15 and 17, police say

DEWITT, N.Y. (AP) — Two Black teenagers fatally shot by a sheriff's deputy in upstate New York as he tried to stop a stolen vehicle were 15 and 17 years old, authorities said Thursday.

The deputy was in danger of being run over when he fired three shots into the vehicle near Syracuse on Wednesday morning, the Onondaga County sheriff said. Two of three people in the car were killed.

The sheriff's office identified the slain teens as Dhal Pothwi Apet, 17, and Lueth Mo, 15, of Syracuse.

Pothwei Bangoshoth posted on Facebook that Apet was his son.

“The traditional killing of the young people of colour is not something new in the US. RIP,” Bangoshoth posted. Noting that the deputy's body camera was off when the shooting happened, he wrote, “Justice needs to be served accordingly.”

The deputy was investigating a burglary at a nearby smoke shop in DeWitt, a suburb of Syracuse, when he responded to a 911 call about a group of people who had been seen transferring items between two vehicles possibly matching the description of those involved in the thefts.

Moments after the deputy arrived, one of two stolen cars at the scene came close to running him over, Sheriff Tobias Shelley said at a news conference Wednesday. Shelley said the deputy fired his gun to protect himself. The sheriff said the deputy didn't have time to turn on his body camera, but said a bystander recorded video of the shooting.

The sheriff's office released no further information on Thursday about the shooting, referring media questions to the state attorney general's office. Attorney General Letitia James' office investigates killings by law enforcement officers and has opened a probe into the teen's deaths.

Messages were left with people who knew the teens and the Syracuse city school district.

The vehicle shot at by the deputy was later found on a Syracuse street. One teen in the car was pronounced dead at the scene and a second died a hospital.

Police provided no update Thursday on the search for a third person who was in the car, or for the second vehicle with three occupants that had been at the scene and drove off.