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Police officers honored

Saturday, December 18, 2010

By Sean Barron


When Youngstown police Officer Colleen Villio responded to a gunman Jan. 3 at the Eastway Apartments off McGuffey Road on the city’s East Side, her main focus was trying to prevent a violent confrontation from escalating.

She and two other officers fatally shot the man, ending his rampage and likely saving lives.

Nearly one year later, Villio still doesn’t see her efforts as heroic.

“I did what anybody else would have done in the situation,” said Villio, a 14-year member of the Youngstown Police Department.

Nevertheless, she was one of three officers who received an Award of Valor during the department’s 2010 award ceremony Friday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Hall, 343 Via Mount Carmel Drive.

Also taking home the department’s highest award were officers Russell Davis and Matthew Willis, both of whom were at the scene with Villio.

To be eligible, an officer must perform a single act to save a life or apprehend a person with maximum risk to the officer, noted Capt. Rod Foley of the police department, who was master of ceremonies.

The three fatally shot Pharoah Tutt, 47, of Youngstown, who had gone to an apartment looking for a former girlfriend. The woman was not there, but he fired into one apartment from the outside and went into a building and shot at apartments from a hallway, Foley explained.

Tutt then went into at least one apartment in search of the woman and held several people at gunpoint, a police report said.

He tried to escape in a Ford Explorer and attempted to run over officers, who killed Tutt and ended the rampage, Foley noted.

“It’s a miracle no one else was hurt,” he added.

Other award categories were lifesaving, excellent police duty, investigative excellence and meritorious service. In addition, 25 officers were given letters of commendation for exemplary service.

One of those awarded for saving a life was officer Edward Kenney, a 10-year YPD member.

On July 19, Kenney was sent to a South Side residence to deal with a despondent man who was upset because his wife had left him. The man was holding a gun to his mouth and threatening to kill himself, Kenney recalled.

After establishing rapport and engaging in more than an hour of negotiations, Kenney got the man to relinquish the firearm and seek medical attention.

“It was one of the more tense things I’ve had to do,” he said. “It worked out, thank God.”

Despite his actions, Kenney said he doesn’t view himself as a hero.

“I just happened to be the one that day who got the call,” the officer added.

Police Chief Jimmy Hughes praised the estimated 155 full-time patrol and 50 ranking officers for their service, which has included occasional 12- to 16-hour days. Many officers also had multiple calls at one time, he noted.

Additional remarks were from state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield, D-33rd, and Jason Whitehead, Mayor Jay Williams’ chief of staff.


Award of valor (single act of unusual bravery): Officers Russell Davis, Colleen Villio and Matthew Willis.

Lifesaving (single act that results in the saving of a life): Detective/Sgt. James Pasquale and officers Joseph Moran, Edward Kenney, Anthony Congemi, William Burton, Jerry Fulmer, William Ward and Chad Zubal.

Excellent police duty (continual professional performance for the year): Lt. Kevin Mercer, Detective/Sgts. Anita Davis, Michael Lambert, Daryl Martin and Thomas Parry, and officers Frank Bigowsky, Brad Ditullio and Patrick Mulligan.

Source: Youngstown Police Department