Early in the afternoon of August 18 – a hot, sunny day – a Bucks County probation officer pulled into the Yardley Commons apartment complex, next to the Yardley SEPTA station, to perform a welfare check on 24-year-old Colin Petroziello at the request of his parents.
Shortly after the officer’s arrival at Unit 806, he called for backup. Yardley Borough Police Chief Joseph Kelly III responded. The riverside town’s police force is small and mostly part-time, so Kelly, who has been in law enforcement for more than 35 years, the last six-and-a-half as Yardley’s police chief, usually goes out on the serious calls.
Plus, the only other officer on duty at the time was already out on a call, Kelly said.
Minutes later, Petroziello fired a 12-gauge shotgun through his front door. Kelly took cover and called for backup. Then he assessed his injuries. He knew immediately he’d been hit on the left side of his head. Someone later told him the blood was coming from his left ear. His left hand was also bloody, and he was unable to move it.
He was taken to St. Mary Medical Center, where he underwent surgery to remove shotgun pellets from four fingers. He also suffered a broken ring finger after being struck with projectiles.
The shooting led to a five-hour standoff that ended when police forcibly entered the barricaded apartment and found Petroziello asleep in the bedroom, according to court records. Three guns, including the shotgun that was used to wound Kelly, were recovered from the home.
Petroziello’s parents said their son has a history of mental illness, including two involuntary mental health commitments, which bar him from possessing firearms in Pennsylvania.
The violent episode shook the typically tranquil town. During the standoff, Yardley Commons residents, as well as a neighboring development and a daycare across the street were locked down.
In the days following the shooting, local leaders, businesses owners, and residents expressed their gratitude on social media. Kelly said the experience made him more appreciative of life and brought him closer to the community he serves.
Two months after the shooting, on October 19, Kelly was presented with three commendations in recognition of his heroism. One of them, the Yardley Borough Police Department Valor Award, lauded his “extraordinary act of courage without regard for personal safety.”
Petroziello remains in Bucks County Prison after he was denied bail. He is charged with attempted murder and related charges. The Bucks County District Attorney’s office said he is tentatively scheduled to stand trial on January 7.
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