YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Firefighters run in when others would run out. Now, Youngstown police are following them after a firefighter was shot Monday night while responding to a vacant house fire.
While police officers apprehend those who have committed a crime, firefighters don’t have that element to the job. But when the alarm goes off now, there’s a real fear among firefighters.
“There’s usually not that mentality, ‘Lets hurt firefighters,’” said Youngstown Fire Chief John O’Neill.
Firefighters were responding to a vacant house fire at Halleck and Elm streets when shots were fired toward them by an unknown person. This is all that remains of the house Tuesday.
The Youngstown Fire Department was called about 9 p.m. Monday to a house fire at Halleck and Elm streets. While they were on the scene, gunshots were fired toward the truck, hitting Lt. Paul Lutton in the leg and going through the fire jacket of Dwyain Montgomery.
Lutton is at home recovering and Montgomery is luckily to be alive, since the bullet narrowly missed his chest.
Firefighters are understandably rattled.
“We got enough dangers to worry about — the smoke, the contaminants. We don’t want to have to worry about the public,” said Youngstown Firefighter Tony Ciccone.
Since the shooting, police will also be responding to every call for fire crews. They’re still investigating to determine who fired the shots, and the shooter is still at large.
“Youngstown Police and Fire has always had a great working relationship, so for them to come out on all our calls, we’re ecstatic to have it. It makes us feel safer,” Ciccone said. “It’s nice for them to come out.”
The fire department appreciated the swarm of police officers who showed up Tuesday night when the shots were fired.
“Something like this pushes us together as a brotherhood,” Ciccone said.
The new partnership was forced out of concern, but formed in cooperation to protect all first responders.
Police will be escorting fire crews until law enforcement finds whoever is responsible for the shooting. Some officers were on the scene of a fire on Cordova Avenue late Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve worked hand-in-hand with those guys for so long. It’s great to have them come out on all the calls we need right now,” Ciccone said. “We’re concerned for our safety. We want to make sure that we’re able to do our job.”
It’s brought the community closer, but the whole ordeal is still a shock to the fire department.
“As firemen, we’re used to friendly people. We go out to help you, to save your property and life. We’re friendly when we come out, and to take a shot at us is just bewildering,” Ciccone said.
Those with information on the shooting are asked to call Youngstown Police at 330-742-8950.