CORNING — The Canisteo Valley and the greater Southern Tier are mourning the death of a hero.
New York State Trooper Nicholas Clark, a Canisteo-Greenwood and Alfred University graduate who pursued a career in law enforcement to help others, was killed in the line of duty Monday responding to a domestic incident in the Corning area.
"This is a terrible loss for the New York State Police," New York State Police 1st Deputy Chris Fiore said at a Monday afternoon press conference held at Painted Post State Police Barracks in Coopers Plains.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to Steuben County to honor Clark's service on Monday and praised the "extraordinary trooper."
"He wanted to do one thing, to help people," said Cuomo, who attended the press conference.
Cuomo directed that flags on all state government buildings be flown at half-staff in honor of Clark.
"We hope that you find peace in this senseless act of violence," he said. "There is no reason, there is no point. It just hurts."
Clark, 29, was a Troupsburg native and member of the Canisteo-Greenwood Central School Class of 2006.
He leaves behind his parents, Theresa Gunn and Anthony Clark, as well as a brother and a fiance.
Throughout his life, Clark was noted as a stellar athlete. At Canisteo-Greenwood, he was a star wrestler, winning two state championships, while excelling on the football field as well.
Clark was a December 2011 graduate of Alfred University, earning a BA in Environmental Studies, where he was a standout football player for all four years. Clark's football accolades also caught the eye of NFL scouts, and he had a tryout with the Buffalo Bills in May of 2012 — a rarity for a Division III player, but Clark's resume was impeccable.
Clark was a four-year letter winner for the Saxons, ending his career as one of the most decorated players in the program's 120-year history. As a linebacker, he was a two-time All-America honoree while earning Empire 8 All-Conference honors three times, the Empire 8 Defensive Player of the Year honor twice – the first in conference history to do so – and the Empire 8 Conference Merit Award.
"Nick was one of the all-time greats that has ever worn the Purple & Gold and did so in a way that left a legacy that will never be forgotten," said AU Athletics Director Paul Vecchio. "Our heartfelt prayers and supportive thoughts go out to his family, including his mother Theresa Gunn, an Alfred University professor and currently the Faculty Athletic Representative for the Division of Athletics. Nick’s passion was to serve others and this led him to his position as a NYS Trooper. His passing underscores the incredible sacrifices and risks that these brave men and women make everyday to keep our communities safe.”
In 2012, Clark's football career culminated with an invitation to participate in a Buffalo Bills minicamp for unsigned free agents.
"Words cannot express the loss that the Alfred University Football family has suffered," AU head football coach Bob Rankl said. "Nick was not only a great player but also a great supporter of our program. Our prayers go out to his family."
Clark came to Alfred after a year at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro, where he received a wrestling scholarship. He returned in 2008 to be closer to home and chose Alfred University, where his mother is a member of the College of Business faculty.
"The entire Alfred University community is reeling from the news that Nicholas Clark was killed early this morning in the line of duty as a New York State trooper. This tragedy touches us in so many ways," said Alfred University President Mark Zupan. "Nick was a wonderful young man, highly regarded for his community spirit, great heart, and unquestionable skills as a football player. Whenever the Saxons got into a tough situation on the football field, the coaches sent in Nick Clark to get the job done.
"Nick's mother, Theresa Gunn is an accounting professor with our College of Business and a valued member of our community. Please join me in extending our condolences to Theresa and her family on Nick's tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time," Zupan added.
After chasing his dream, Clark pursued a new calling, as a New York State Trooper.
Clark graduated from the New York State Police Academy's Basic School in September of 2015, part of the Troopers' 203rd class. He was initially assigned to Troop C in Sydney, and was later assigned to Troop E's Bath barracks in August 2017.
News of his passing was met with an outpouring of support in the community, with many posting the symbol for a fallen officer (a badge struck through with a thin blue line) to express their condolences.
“Trooper Clark is a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of serving and protecting others. Despite the inherent dangers in today’s society, our Troopers have answered - and will continue to answer - the call of duty again and again,” said Thomas H. Mungeer, president of the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Police. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Trooper Clark’s family, friends and fellow Troopers.”
Mungeer said the PBA, as the labor union, will assist with arrangements for the line-of-duty death funeral, as well as assist Trooper Clark’s family and fellow Troopers with whatever needs arise.
The PBA’s charity, the Signal 30 Benefit Fund, is accepting donations on behalf of the family of Trooper Clark.
The Signal 30 Fund was created to support the members of the New York State Police and their families in extraordinary circumstances such as line-of-duty death, illness, injury, and loss of residence to fires or floods.
By donating through the Signal 30 Fund, 100 percent of the funds earmarked for Troopers and their families will go directly to them – there are no administrative fees. The NYS Troopers PBA Signal 30 Fund is a federally recognized 501 (c)(3) and contributions are tax deductible.
Donations to the Signal 30 Fund can be made by check or credit card. Checks can be made payable to: NYS Troopers Signal 30 Benefit Fund, and mailed to: NYS Troopers PBA Signal 30 Benefit Fund, 120 State St., Albany, NY 12207.
Online donations can be made through the Signal 30 website https://signal30.org/online-donations/ or through the PBA website at www.nystpba.org and click on “Donate to Signal 30 Fund.”
To donate specifically to the family of Trooper Clark, please include his name in the memo line of the check, or for online donations, type in his name in the box that asks if the money is for a specific fundraising event.