Liverpool (WSYR-TV) - A desperate call for help on Monday morning, from a home in the village of Liverpool, offered Police Chief Donald Morris two crucial clues...descriptions of a suspect and a possible getaway car.
He grabbed a portable radio and headed toward Second Street in an unmarked car, aware that at least one person may have been stabbed.
"You never know what you are going into and you really can never be complacent," said Morris. "You have to expect the unexpected."
The first person to arrive at the scene, Chief Morris instantly noticed Justin Dallas in a car that matched the description provided by 911 dispatchers.
As the chief turned on his lights, he watched the driver cross a double-solid line and pass another car. A chase began.
Following alerts on his radio, Morris let an oncoming Onondaga County sheriff's deputy know that the suspect was headed in his direction. The chief was eager to hand over the lead to someone in a marked law enforcement vehicle, so their presence would be more apparent to other drivers.
Morris says Dallas blew through two traffic lights and swerved into the path of the oncoming deputy at one point.
By the time Dallas made it from Second Street to Onondaga Lake Park, he was being pursued by the chief and two deputies, including Dep. Mike Quigley.
The trio tried to trap Dallas as he rolled into a parking area near the park's ball field. Facing capture, the suspect headed for the water, and Dep. Quigley followed.
"Without hesitation he was in the water, doing what needed to be done and that was getting hands on the subject," Morris recalled.
The chief and Deputy Karen Monroe followed behind Quigley for back-up, as he informed Dallas that his attempt to escape was over.
"He decided that he didn't want to exit the lake and went dead weight on us. We forcibly got handcuffs on him and physically dragged him from the water," Morris explained.
As they tussled in the water, no one realized the suspect was about to face murder charges for the stabbing deaths of two women.
Investigators believe Justin Dallas was dropped off at the Second Street home where his wife Brandy lived with a friend, around 11:00 a.m. on Monday morning.
24-year old Brandy Dallas had sought an order of protection against her husband after a domestic incident in July, when he was arrested for Menacing and Unlawful Imprisonment. His arrival at her home in Liverpool sparked an argument.
Deputies say Justin Dallas stabbed his wife and her friend, 30-year old Samantha Rainwater, several times. An unnamed woman told investigators that she was pushed down a flight of stairs. She survived and made the call for help.
Rainwater died in her home. Brandy Dallas, the mother of two young children, was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital. The children, ages 3 and 8, were not home at the time of the stabbings.
District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said he expects 26-year old Justin Dallas to waive his right to a preliminary hearing. Then, the DA's office would turn over some evidence to the defense.
"It's just a horrible situation and we don't want to talk about a motive right now because the Sheriff and I have discussed that and there's young kids invovled here and we are concerned about them," Fitzpatrick said. "Obviously if at some point the case goes to trial, it's something that is going to come to light and you will learn about it."
Dallas pleaded not guilty to charges of first degree Murder, two counts of second degree Murder, and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the fourth degree. He's being held without bail, awaiting a preliminary hearing on Friday, Nov. 1 at 11:00 a.m.
People are already asking for help for the children, who now have a father in jail as they bury their mother. A benefit will be held on Saturday at Ref's Sports Bar on Milton Avenue in Solvay, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are $10.
Chief Morris stood on the shore of Onondaga Lake on Wednesday afternoon, reflecting on the events that had unfolded two days earlier. He passes by the crime scene on Second Street nearly every day.
"It's difficult dealing with the fact that we couldn't stop what happened to the victims. It is tragic because you have children without parents," said Morris. "It weighs on you."