HERKIMER, N.Y. — A man neighbors said rarely spoke to them started a fire in his apartment on Wednesday, shot four people dead at a couple of businesses in his hometown and a neighboring village, and then exchanged gunfire with police officers who surrounded an abandoned building where he apparently was holed up, authorities said.
Police officers were fired on from the upstate New York building on Wednesday afternoon while looking for 64-year-old Kurt Myers, State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said. At least one officer returned fire, and later it was unknown if Myers was still alive, D’Amico said.
‘‘We’re in no rush to bring this to a conclusion,’’ D’Amico said, adding that the main objective was to make sure no one else was hurt.
Police said Myers’s rampage started with a fire in his apartment in the nearby village of Mohawk at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
D’Amico said police had not had any communication with Myers, whose only known police record was a 1973 drunken-driving arrest.