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Marist College shooting: Hochul spox vows to ‘combat violence,’ Zeldin hammers NY ‘pro-criminal’ policies

A spokesperson for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the governor is committed to “keep New Yorkers safe,” after a Marist College student’s father was killed in a shooting Sunday at a hotel near campus, as GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin hammers the state’s “pro-criminal policies.”

“Our hearts are with the family and friends of Paul Kutz as they mourn this tragic loss,” said Hochul communications director Julie Wood. “Gov. Hochul’s top priority is to keep New Yorkers safe, and she continues to work every day with law enforcement and local officials to improve the criminal justice system, combat violence, and strengthen public safety in communities across the state.”

Zeldin, meanwhile, hammered Democrat policies in New York that he and many others in the GOP blame for crime rates and public safety concerns. 

MARIST COLLEGE DAD MURDER: SUSPECT THREATENED TO SHOOT MAN IN FACE PRIOR TO NEW YORK ROBBERY

Paul Kutz poses with family in a Facebook photo from 2013, Kurtz was killed in a shooting at Marist College Sunday, while he was visiting his freshman son for parents weekend.
(Facebook/Paul Kutz)

“New York’s pro-criminal policies are putting everyday New Yorkers in harm’s way. As a result, yet again, an innocent family has been torn apart,” Zeldin, also a sitting congressman, said.

“New Yorkers are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Whether it’s cashless bail, Less is More, the HALT Act and more, Democrats’ pro-criminal, anti-law and order policies have come with a steep price and everyday New Yorkers are paying for it,” Zeldin continued.

Roy Johnson Jr., 35, was arrested at the scene for second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon for the random killing of the 53-year-old father Paul Kurtz in Poughkeepsie Sunday morning. Kurtz was at a Courtyard Marriott hotel, visiting his freshman son for family weekend at Marist College. 

MARIST COLLEGE PARENT MURDER: SUSPECT IN HOTEL SHOOTING LINKED TO ANOTHER HIGH-PROFILE KILLING

Police say Johnson was present at another homicide Aug. 9, when Darren Villani, 28, was fatally shot in his car at the intersection of Mansion Street and Bement Avenue.

City of Poughkeepsie Police Captain Rich Wilson said in a press release that detectives determined that Johnson, who is homeless, was at the intersection of Mansion and Smith streets at approximately 1:45 a.m.

MARIST COLLEGE PARENT MURDER: OFFICIALS, NEIGHBORS SLAM NEW YORK CRIME POLICIES FOLLOWING MARRIOTT SHOOTING

Johnson’s history also includes a violent robbery in 2005; a guilty plea for first-degree burglary in 2006; and an arrest in 2016 for fleeing a traffic stop, nearly striking an officer, then barreling through nearby backyards to escape. 

He was picked up in another case April 24, 2020, in Fulton County, Georgia, for allegedly dealing cocaine and marijuana, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony – and was warranted after missing a July 12 court date. 

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Johnson was arrested with Devin Taylor, 26, in connection with Kutz’s murder, 

Johnson is being held without bail on charges of second-degree murder and weapons possession. Taylor faces two counts of weapons possession for carrying a loaded rifle with no serial number and ordered held on $1 million bond, court records show.

A grand jury is weighing an indictment against the men, who are locked up at the Dutchess County Jail. 

Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report. 

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