More Learned About The Death Of Cattaraugus County Sheriff Dennis John

08.19.09 | FL News Team

(Coldspring, NY) -- We're learning more today about the mysterious death of Cattaraugus County Sheriff Dennis John. The first Native-American sheriff in New York State history was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound yesterday.

FLN News has learned his nephew, Colin Speta, is the 26 year-old Falconer man who fell into Chautaqua Lake on Sunday. Police are not saying if the investigation into Speta's fall had anything to do with Sheriff John's suicide. They also say foul play is not suspected in this case but would not say if the shooting was accidental or suicide.

John was appointed to his post by former Governor George Pataki four years ago.  The 51-year-old John began his law enforcement career in the Seneca Nation, then joined the sheriff's department in 1981.  Once in the department, John moved up the ranks until ultimately taking the reigns in 2005.

John was remembered by Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder as one of their most trusted and respected members who put the safety and well-being of others first.