YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Two Youngstown police officers who carried a 3-month-old homicide victim to the hospital earlier this week are speaking out about the drive, reported WKBN.
Officers Casey Kelly and Greg Tackett were the second and third officers to arrive Wednesday night at the corner of Gibson and Pasadena.
They did what they could to save a young life. The two Youngstown police officers made a decision. They decided the baby in the back seat needed to be hospitalized immediately.
Now, courtesy of WKBN, the officers describe what occurred. They tell how they heard the gunshots, found the baby, and did what they could to keep him alive.
On Wednesday around 7:00 p.m. Youngstown police officers Kelly and Tackett were parked at the Byzantine Center on Shady Run Road.
“Officer Tackett looks at me, he’s like, did you hear that. I’m like I didn’t hear anything. He said that was gunfire,” Kelly said.
“Right after that we heard another volley of gunfire which sounded like two different calibers shooting back and forth at each other,” Tackett said.
“He was like start heading north. So we throw it into gear and start driving down Shady Run,” Kelly said.
It turned out the shots came from a mile and a half away—at the corner of Gibson Street and Pasadena Avenue.
“When we get to a scene like that the first thing we want to make sure it’s secure, make sure there’s no one else around that could ambush us,” Kelly said.
“We saw the two adult victims sitting in the front seat of the car, both with apparent gunshot wounds,” Tackett said.
They said Edward Morris, 21, appeared to be dead and Valarcia Blair, 19, was barely breathing. As Officer Kelly shined his flashlight into the car, he noticed what he thought was a pile of clothes. But is was actually a blanket and a car seat containing a baby.
“Your first thought in your head is like please ‘don’t be hit, please don’t,’ because it looked like everything was kind of over top of it. But as I shined down by its crotch area, you could see a little bit of blood,” Kelly said.
“The ambulance company told us it was going to be a few minutes until they got there, and just looking at the baby’s injuries just knew that a few minutes wasn’t going to cut it,” Tackett said.
“Me and him both decided, you know we’re like, we got to get this baby to the hospital,” Kelly said.
“Let’s just get the baby to the hospital as quick as we can,” Tackett said.
As a result, they put the car seat with the baby in the back seat with Officer Tackett and Officer Kelly drove, headed to St. Elizabeth in Youngstown.
“When we told them we were coming fast, I mean I was probably like 120 down south avenue, lights and sirens just getting there. He’s in the back seat yelling ‘try and go faster,’ and I’m jamming my floor, I mean in short of putting my foot through the bottom floor board trying to get the gas pedal all the way down, that’s how quick we were getting there,” Kelly said.
Once the baby arrived at the hospital the two officers returned to their vehicle.
“I went and sat in the cruiser for a second. I’m not going to lie, I cried a little bit,” Kelly said.
Afterward, they returned to the homicide scene. Later in the evening they learned the baby didn’t make it.
“Upsetting is the only thing I can really say. To be honest with you, a lot of us there are still trying to process it,” Tackett said.
“Having an infant, three month old dying in front of you, that’s not something you prepare yourself for mentally,” Kelly said.
From the hospital, they went back to work because they knew many of the officers were still at the murder scene.
“We were on the west side, we were back on the south side, we were all over the place just kind of cleaning up what needed to be cleaned up call wise,” Kelly said.
Consequently, both have been offered counseling but neither one has used it. Instead, they’ve relied on the veterans in the Youngstown Police Department for peer support.
“When you’re telling them what happened, and they can relate to you back, and say well I’ve had that happen before or this is the situation I’ve been in,” Kelly said.
“They’ve been very helpful, the entire chain of command has been very helpful has been reaching out to us, making sure that we have the resources available to us but also just offering really kind words and just being there,” Tackett said.
Officer Casey Kelly has been with Youngstown police for two years, Officer Greg Tackett for three years.