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Heroes in Blue: The Loss of Officer Leo

Lauren Schotten, Senior Staff Writer

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On Saturday, October 21 at 10:07 p.m., a Girard woman named Angelea Diana called 911. She told dispatchers that she and her boyfriend, Jason Marble, had been fighting and he had been drinking all day. She also said that she had left because Marble had been scaring her children, and that a neighbor had called her telling her that there were gunshots heard coming from the house. Officer Justin Leo and his partner responded to the call. The officers approached the home and held a brief conversation with Marble. During this short conversation, Marble pulled out a gun and shot Officer Leo in the chest. His partner quickly responded and shot and killed Marble.

At 10:19 p.m., dispatchers received a very chilling call. “Shots fired! Shots fired! Get an ambulance up here,” an announcement which was quickly followed by, “24 is down! Give me back up now!” Officer Justin Leo had been shot.  However, at that moment, it was not known whether the officer had killed Marble, or what kind of condition he was in. As dispatchers tried to send officers after the shooter, an officer replied with, “Suspect is down. Suspect is down.”

Officer Leo was quickly rushed to St. Elizabeth Medical Center, where he later died due to his injuries. He was a five year veteran of the Girard Police Department. Girard Mayor Justin Melfi stated, “Justin Leo was a young man I knew most of my life. An absolute gentleman and someone whom the city has been proud of since he had been here with us. Our community’s prayers and thoughts go out to Leo’s family.”

Sunday, October 22, a candlelight vigil was held at the Girard High School football stadium to honor Justin Leo. Over 1,000 attended, including the friends and family of Leo, the community, the Girard Police Department, and police from other departments in both Mahoning and Trumbull counties. “The entire home stands were filled with the glow of candles,” remarked Stan Boney from WKBN First News.

The funeral to honor Officer Leo was held on Sunday, October 29 at 1pm, at Youngstown State University’s Beeghly Center. Approximately 2,500 people attended, according to online sources. There were hundreds of police cruisers in the procession that started at Girard High School, and ended at Beeghly Center. The night before, calling hours were held at the Covelli Center. Officers from all around the country showed up to pay their respects, including officers from New York, Texas, and Montana. After Sunday’s mass and the final presentation of the flag to the parents of Justin Leo, the officer’s body was taken to Tod Homestead Cemetery, his final resting place.

This tragedy affected many locally, including staff and students at Hubbard High School. Mrs. Andrea Stamp, whose husband is a police officer, said, “When I heard, I immediately broke down in tears. Selfishly, I thought of my husband because he was at work. If you have someone in that situation, it’s something that is always in the back of your mind.”  HHS Senior Molly Wack said, “It’s shameful that people are killing those who work to save our lives.” Both juniors Chloe Ryhal and Alexis Ward shared similar views. Chloe remarked that “It’s sad to see police officers give up their lives. They know the risks of the job, but to see someone actually lose their life is a tragedy.” Alexis added, “All the police force strives to do is keep everything orderly and safe. To see people who interfere with that process with violence makes me wonder why you would hurt anyone whose life is on the line solely to keep the attackers safe.”

Kenneth Romo, a 2016 HHS graduate, attended the candlelight vigil, the procession, and the funeral. He remarked, “The show of support from police officers across the country was astonishing. There were officers from Florida, South Carolina, Texas, NYPD, and Chicago, amongst the troves of officers from every law enforcement agency from Cleveland, to Columbus, to Pittsburgh. All of them with badges covered, hats on, and boots polished. There was a sense of solidarity amongst the officers, even though most had never met one another, but all recognized that they take the same risks each and every day. It was an extremely somber day, steeped in tradition and respect for a fallen officer, but it is one I will not soon forget.”

 

Sources:

http://www.wfmj.com/story/36682064/police-release-details-911-recordings-from-girard-officers-deadly-shooting

http://wkbn.com/2017/10/25/radio-traffic-911-calls-tell-chilling-story-in-girard-officer-shooting/

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/22/ohio-police-officer-fatally-shot-during-domestic-dispute-call.html

http://wkbn.com/2017/10/22/a-wonderful-guy-vigil-honors-girards-fallen-officer/

http://wkbn.com/2017/10/28/honoring-a-fallen-officer-funeral-planned-for-sunday-at-1-p-m/

 

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Heroes in Blue: The Loss of Officer Leo