The man accused of gunning down a co-worker at a New York City Department of Environmental Protection facility in Kingston last week allegedly told police that the victim was “stalking him.” And, according to a DEP Police lieutenant, there had been at least one reported workplace altercation between the men in the months prior to the shooting.
The revelations came at a preliminary hearing Monday, Feb. 10 in the second-degree murder case against David N. Reese, 54, for the Feb. 3 killing of Aron J. Thomas inside a workshop at the DEP facility at 71 Smith Ave. The hearing was held in Kingston City Court before part-time City Court Judge Phillip Kirschner to determine if there was reasonable cause to hold Reese in jail pending grand jury proceedings.
Ulster County Senior Assistant District Attorney Katherine Van Loan called just one witness to the stand, DEP Police Lt. Justin Kight. Kight testified that when he arrived for work at 6:24 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 3, he noticed Reece’s black Lincoln Navigator SUV and Thomas’ Toyota parked outside the Smith Avenue facility. Moments after he clocked in, Kight testified, he heard a knock on his office door and looked through a glass pane to see Reese standing there. When he opened the door, Kight said, Reese silently turned around and lifted his jacket displaying a Glock pistol. Kight told the court that he grabbed the gun and took a cell phone from Reese before escorting him to a police vehicle to retrieve a pair of handcuffs. En route, Kight testified, Reese told the cop, “They been breaking into my office” and, “You know Aron’s stalking me?” before admitting “I shot Aron twice.”
Moments later, after securing Reese in a Kingston Police Department vehicle, Kight said he entered a storage area off of the maintenance department’s workshop, accompanied by two paramedics from Mobile Life Ambulance. There, Kight said, he found Thomas, a 33-year-old father of two, laying facedown on the floor. He was pronounced dead at HealthAlliance’s Broadway Campus (KingstonHospital) later that day. Asked about Reese’s demeanor during their encounter, Kight replied, “He was calm.”
During cross-xamination by Ulster County Assistant Public Defender Mari Ann Connolly, Kight told the court that he was aware of an incident report involving Reese and Thomas that was filed sometime around Nov. 26 last year. Van Loan cut off further questioning about run-ins between the two men with an objection that the inquiry was irrelevant given the scope of the proceeding. Under cross-examination, Kight also testified that he did not observe any overturned furniture or other signs of a struggle in the workshop where Thomas’ body was found. He added that there were 36 security cameras at various locations in the Smith Avenue complex. At least one, he said, captured Thomas and Reese near a loading dock outside the maintenance office moments before the shooting. The two men, he said, were not seen interacting on the video.
Following the hearing, Kirschner ruled that the evidence presented was sufficient to show that a felony had been committed and Reese had committed it. Reese was ordered held in the Ulster County Jail pending the presentation of the case to a grand jury. District Attorney Holley Carnright said that he was awaiting results from a state police crime lab and other crime scene data before presenting the case to a grand jury.