YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Youngstown firefighter was shot Monday night after responding to a fire, and police believe it was a targeted shooting.
It began when the Youngstown Fire Department’s Engine #7 was called about 9 p.m. to a house fire at Halleck and Elm streets.
The crew had just left the fire scene on Elm around 11:15 p.m. and turned onto Halleck, when firefighters saw a man standing in a driveway and then heard gunshots. Rounds passed through both doors of the truck on the left side.
“One hit the driver in the leg. The second went through the back door and actually went through the firefighter’s coat, right in front of his chest,” Fire Chief John O’Neill said.
A perimeter was set up and K-9 units were called in to search the area.
Lutton is still recovering Tuesday night and the other firefighter, Dwyain Montgomery, wasn’t hurt, although the bullet was found in a pocket of his turnout coat.
“The firefighter shot in the leg is – I saw him early again this morning – seems to be doing quite well under the circumstances. A lot of pain, obviously. Hopefully he might get released today if all goes well,” O’Neill said.
At the time of the fire, police were sent to the scene after firefighters complained that a man had been yelling at them and driving back and forth through the area. Officers heard the gunshots around the corner, but the suspect was gone by the time they got there.
O’Neill says he doesn’t think the shooting was random, and that police are treating it as a targeted shooting.
“I don’t think they were stray bullets. There were a few shots taken and we have at least two bullet holes in the truck,” O’Neill said. “Now it’s going to be up to the police. Hopefully, the police will get on this and get someone right away, and find out what’s going on and why they did it.”
The fire truck is back in service Tuesday.
O’Neill says the shooting has rattled other firefighters in the department.
Until further notice, a Youngstown police squad will accompany firefighters to any fire scene. With police close by, fire crews were back on Elm Street Tuesday, dowsing hot spots from the vacant house fire.
“They’re going to make frequent stops at the stations,” O’Neill said. “Any calls that we have, they’re going to have cruisers that are in the area go and respond to that location also, and that’s whether it’s a small fire or a structure fire.”
While they were fighting the fire, crews had to call city police to the scene, complaining that a man kept walking and driving through the area. O’Neill says the man actually exchanged words with some of the firefighters, and the shooting happened an hour or so later.
Police are looking for him, while arson investigators try to determine who set the house on fire.
“We’re out looking for the individual, we have some leads. Detectives are out talking to some people now,” Police Capt. Brad Blackburn said.
Firefighters gave a description of the man they said was harassing them at the fire scene, as well as the license number of his car.
“We can’t confirm yet that the confrontation with the gentleman earlier at the scene was the same gentleman that shot at them,” Blackburn said.
So far, no one has been arrested.