Ti shooting victim’s dad: He tried to help the wrong people

Liam Brown with his dog, Manny (Photo provided)

TICONDEROGA — William “Liam” T. Brown’s family put social media to work helping Ticonderoga Police find murder suspect Michael E. LaRock.

“We had thousands of people sharing to get this guy,” said the murdered man’s stepmother, Angela Brown, on Tuesday. “People reached out to us.

“We don’t want this to happen to somebody else’s child.”

LaRock, 38, of Ticonderoga had been on the run since Friday, when Brown’s body was found face down in the LaChute River in Ticonderoga’s Bicentennial Park.

Captured near the Canadian border on Monday, LaRock was arraigned in Ticonderoga Town Court by Justice Keith Dolbeck on charges of second-degree murder and three other felonies: aggravated criminal possession of a weapon, tampering with physical evidence and concealment of a human corpse.

Michael E. LaRock

LaRock, already a convicted felon, was taken to Essex County Jail with no bail.

Angela said the family was relieved to learn he was in custody.

“He (Liam) could have been anybody’s son in our community,” she said. “We don’t want this to happen again. We want to make sure justice is served for Liam.”

Anonymous tip

A suspicious vehicle reported to Ticonderoga Police early Friday brought attention to the murder.

Officers followed footprints from the Volkwagen Jetta in the park to the river, where they discovered Liam’s body.

Arrested soon afterwards were Donald C. LaRock, 63, and Joshua W. Smith, 35, both of Ticonderoga, who were charged with first-degree hindering prosecution, tampering with evidence and concealment of a human corpse, all felonies, for allegedly moving the body to the river.

Donald LaRock is Michael’s father.

Friday afternoon, Michael had been caught on surveillance footage at a gas station on Route 37 in Hogansburg, in Franklin County.

On Monday, Massena police got an anonymous tip about where he was hiding and notified State Police, Ticonderoga Police Sgt. Adam Hurlburt said in a press release.

“Members of the Ticonderoga Police Department and members of the New York State Major Crimes Unit focused their investigation in the Town of Norfolk where they eventually located LaRock,” he said.

He was taken into custody at Lot 5, 59 South Main St. in that St. Lawrence County town.

Michael gave up without incident, Hurlburt said.

Liam died of a gunshot wound to the head. Police haven’t said whether a weapon has been recovered.

Served his country

A retired U.S. Army veteran who served combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, Liam was a chemical weapons specialist in the military and had been in a unit on patrol at the Pentagon looking for chemical weapons before 9/11, his father, William Brown, said on Tuesday.

“He was always in one of the front line units in Iraq,” William said. “He was a combat veteran. He served his country.”

His son had suffered a traumatic brain injury and had post traumatic stress disorder, he said.

“He was a veteran who needed a lot of help.

“He’d been back in town for a little over a year,” William continued. “He fought his demons for years and years to the point of the extremes.”

Very bright, bubbly

Liam often played the organ at the Episcopal Church of the Cross in Ticonderoga, where church member Carol Fogg said his death has been a shock to everyone.

“The whole community is sad.”

“He played for our organist when she was away,” she said. “He was scheduled to play for us on Christmas. Liam was a very talented young man, very musical.”

Liam was also a composer.

Ticonderoga Festival Guild Executive Director Judy Walker said he participated in the guild’s Twelfth Night Concert last year.

“He played two organ arrangements he wrote that were very dramatic and lovely,” she said.

Fogg said everyone enjoyed Liam’s music.

“He was very bright, very bubbly,” she said. “He brought his dog to church; he was very attached to the dog.”

Liam’s sister, Katy, is taking care of his cat and the dog, Manny, Angela said.

Amazing musician

Church of the Cross Subdeacon Robert Fogg, Carol’s husband, said Liam had just been at the church on Wednesday, Dec. 12, to practice for the pre-Christmas and Christmas Eve services.

“He loved to play the organ; he was very good,” Subdeacon Fogg said. “He was very talented; his style of playing was more cathedral or concert. He was amazing, what he could do with a song.”

William said his son always had a talent for music.

“That was one of his big passions,” he said. “He had an interest in music all through high school and throughout his life. His music teacher in high school helped him.

“He was phenomenal at playing the organ. He played in different places where he’d lived.”

Tried to help

Liam’s desire to help others may have brought him into contact with some undesirable people, his father said.

“He was bringing people into his apartment to stay with him, people who had drug and alcohol problems,” William said. “He still kept his heart big enough to help them.

“Some of the people he tried to help were the wrong people.”

Smith was one of those who stayed with Liam, William said.

“He (Liam) was still trying to help people in the community. That’s what he did right until the end. That’s what community is all about.”


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