DEXTER, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Dexter community gathered on Monday morning to honor one who gave the ultimate sacrifice, Samuel A. Johnson.
On September 11, 1987, Johnson was responding to a crash in the Village of Dexter when he was dispatched to reports of shots fired on Pillar Point. Shortly after responding to the scene, Johnson was shot and killed.
The gunman left the scene, where police from several agencies proceeded with a pursuit throughout Dexter.
Current Mayor of Dexter James Eve described the incident as unimaginable, as he had been coaching football practice nearby and heard the gunshots.
“They say this can’t happen,” Eve said. “Well it did happen here and he was one of our locals, and one of the people that did a public service.”
One day and 35 years later, law enforcement, leaders and the community dedicated a bridge located on a section of State Highway 180 to Johnson.
According to Dexter Chief of Police Christine Kennedy, this bridge stands to honor the sacrifice Johnson made and the police officer he was.
“Sam dedicated his life to law enforcement,” Chief Kennedy shared. “And to the community, and to serving the community in which he lived.”
The process of renaming the bridge started locally. A bill eventually passed the New York State Assembly, Senate and made it to Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk this past summer.
Assemblyman Mark Walczyk presented the signed legislation to Johnson’s surviving sister May at the ceremony on Monday.
“To the family that showed up today, this is how we honor our fallen police officers,” Assemblyman Walczyk said. “This is how we honor Sam.”
The Samuel A. Johnson Memorial Bridge is located roughly ten miles from where the shooting occurred. Mayor Eve’s added that this will help remember the legacy of the fallen police chief.
“His name’s on plaques here and there and all over, but something local that everybody can see, I think that makes a difference. So every time I cross the bridge, I’ll think of Sam,” Eves explained.
The full Chief Samuel A. Johnson, Sr. Memorial Bridge legislation can be read online.