‘We woke up a different community:’ Girard mourns the death of Officer Justin Leo

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GIRARD, Ohio - A Trumbull County police department is mourning the loss of one of their own. Officer Justin Leo, 31, was shot and killed late Saturday night. According to Girard's mayor, this is the first police line-of-duty death in the city's history.

"It's personally the saddest day of my life," said Girard Mayor James Melfi. "I've known the officer since he was in the first grade."

Officer Leo, a five-year veteran of the department, was killed by a yet-to-be identified gunman after he and a partner responded to a domestic situation on Indiana Avenue at 10 p.m. Saturday. A 911 call released Sunday said the gunman had "several firearms" and had been "drinking all day."

According to the mayor, Officer Leo's partner shot and killed the gunman. An unidentified witness watching from across the street explained the moments before gunshots echoed through his neighborhood.

"We watched both officers approach the house, knock on the door. Looks like they engaged in conservation a few minutes then out of nowhere shots rang out," said the witness. "You never expect to see cops, at least around here, get shot."

Mayor Melfi described Officer Leo as a well-respected member of the department, who always worked to make a difference in the community by keeping it safe.

"Police work can be very demanding, very dangerous work," said Mayor Melfi. "Officer Leo was drawn to that type of work without a doubt to help people."

Officer Leo died at a Youngstown hospital just before midnight. As the investigation continues to develop, Mayor Melfi says the community is rallying together. Showing support through cards, food and flowers dropped off at the police station in support of officers.

"We woke up a different community," said Melfi. "We woke up shaken like we never shook before. I don't know how and when we get back but we have to do that in honor of Officer Leo."

Police say the gunman's identity will be released pending notification of next of kin. The shooting is currently under investigation by the Ohio Attorney General's Office and Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Continuing coverage here. 

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