Bridge to be dedicated in honor of slain officer

GIRARD — A dedication ceremony will be held Monday to officially rename the Girard-McDonald viaduct as the “Officer Justin Leo Memorial Bridge.”

A group of Girard High School cross country members have been working with the Girard Police Department, city officials and David and Pat Leo, Justin’s parents, to hold a free 2-mile memorial run / walk event in honor of Leo to begin 8:30 a.m. Monday in downtown Girard.

Event organizers said after the walk and run, a bridge dedication ceremony will be held around 10 a.m. at the bridge, followed by a monument unveiling at city hall. Refreshments will be provided following the dedications at the American Legion, 11 High St.

An anonymous person donated a marble marker to honor Leo, which will be installed in the yard at city hall the day of the ceremony. Mayor James Melfi said the marker sits between city hall and the police department.

“This is a nice way to honor and remember Justin,” he said.

Leo was shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence call Oct. 21, 2017, at a home on Indiana Avenue. Trumbull County commissioners last spring approved changing the name of the bridge to honor Leo.

Those attending the race and dedication should expect potential road closures and traffic delays. The event will be held rain or shine.

State Rep. Glenn Holmes, D-Girard, said Wednesday in a statement Leo gave his life serving the people of Girard, so he is glad to see the dedication of the Officer Justin Leo Memorial Bridge

“Initially, I had planned to name a different structure after Officer Leo, but after talking with the Leo family, Trumbull County Commissioners and other local officials, we concluded that it would be more fitting to honor him with a structure in Girard. I could think of no better way to epitomize what he stood for than to name this bridge in his honor. I hope that all who cross over this bridge will remember Justin and the sacrifice he made for the city and people he loved,” Holmes said.

Various events have been held this year to remember Leo, including a golf outing fundraiser earlier this summer. Last spring, four high school seniors were awarded the $5,000 Officer Justin Leo Memorial Scholarship by the Trumbull County Chapter of the National Association of Wolves, of which David Leo is the scholarship chairman.

Benches at the Girard schools and library shelf holders at Girard Free Library have also been dedicated to Leo. David and Pat Leo also have set up scholarships in their son’s name with the Youngstown State University Foundation that will be awarded next year.