A Yardley man pleaded no contest Thursday in court to shooting the borough police chief during a standoff last summer.
Colin Petroziello, 25, entered the plea to the shooting of Yardley Police Chief Joe Kelly, who was injured by the blast as he accompanied a probation officer to the man's Yardley Commons home on Aug. 18, 2021.
Petroziello had been charged with felony attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, attempted first-degree murder, attempted third-degree murder, assault of a law enforcement officer, and five counts of aggravated assault, as well as misdemeanors of false imprisonment, recklessly endangering another person and possessing an instrument of crime. He pleaded no contest to all offenses, meaning he did not admit guilt in the crime, but acknowledged that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict should the case go to trial.
He's been jailed without bail since the incident. Kelly has since recovered and is back leading the department in the small town.
Sentencing was deferred for 90 days so a pre-sentencing investigation can be conducted. A date has not been set yet.
Initially Petroziello was going to plead guilty but mentally ill, but he entered a no contest plea instead. It was an open plea, meaning there was no agreed-upon sentence prior to entering it.
Judge Wallace Bateman Jr. said during sentencing that an evaluation by a doctor determined that Petroziello lacked the mental capacity to comprehend that his behavior was wrongful that day.
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The plea comes 13 months after the shooting shocked the small riverfront community after a probation officer had been tasked with checking on Petroziello at his home.
Bucks County Adult Probation officer Cristina Viviano said during Petroziello's preliminary hearing last year that she had been contacted by his parents alerting probation that he was having a mental health issue. Viviano said it was unusual to do the home visit, but that Petroziello, who was placed on county probation in January for a disorderly conduct incident, hadn't had a check in a while.
His family contacted probation to see if an officer could convince Petroziello to go to his court hearing on a DUI case in Philadelphia that day. When she heard doors slamming in the home, she called 911 to ask for police assistance. Kelly arrived shortly after, and the two approached the door.
Kelly yelled "Yardley police," then looked in through a window near the door.
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He saw Petroziello, prone, pointing a shotgun at him from the second floor, the chief testified. Kelly said Petroziello fired at him, striking his left ear and hand.
After the shooting, Petroziello barricaded himself in the home and would not let his mother leave, according to county detectives. His mother has said that he did not hold her against her will.
Testimony from the hearing last year showed that a SWAT team used a special vehicle to rescue his mother from the second floor of the home. They later used explosives to break down the door and arrest Petroziello, who was unconscious when officers found him.
The standoff lasted for about four hours.
Petroziello's mother had tossed the shotgun from the building during the standoff. A pistol was found on Petroziello's waistband when he was arrested.
County Detective Frank Groome testified that Petroziello was not allowed to possess the weapons because of a previous protection-from-abuse order and two prior mental health commitments.
Kelly, who has worked in law enforcement for over 30 years, had surgery on his left hand to remove pellets from it. He also had treatment on his left ear, which was hit in the incident.
Check back later for updates.
This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Yardley man pleads no contest to shooting police chief in 2021 standoff