Yardley man sentenced to 15 to 30 years for shooting police chief

  • In US
  • 2023-02-06 18:19:06Z
  • By Bucks County Courier Times

A Yardley man with a long history of mental illness and substance will spend 15 to 30 years for a 2021 shooting and standoff that left the borough's police chief injured.

In handing down his sentence Monday, Bucks County Common Pleas Judge Wallace Bateman Jr. recommended Colin Petroziello's sentence be served in a state prison with a mental health or psychiatric hospital, saying that it was obvious he would need long-term treatment.

The shooting injured Yardley Police Chief Joseph Kelly III and shined a spotlight on a family's private struggles with their adult son and his mental health diagnosis and substance abuse issues.

Bateman told Petroziello, 26, who appeared in court with hair past his shoulders and a beard just as long, that the outcome the day of the shooting could have been much worse.

"Almost any level of forced would have been justified," the judge said.

Petroziello said he understood what the judge was saying.

"I appreciate that. Thank you Chief Kelly," he said.

Yardley Borough Police Chief Joseph Kelly III
Yardley Borough Police Chief Joseph Kelly III  
Colin Petroziello pictured here in his Pennsbury High School senior photo.
Colin Petroziello pictured here in his Pennsbury High School senior photo.  

Dozens of supporters of the chief and probation officer Christina Viviano attended the sentencing, along with two dozen supporters of the Petroziello family. Bateman noted that many letters on Petroziello's behalf requested he be sentenced to a psychiatric hospital rather than state prison.

But Bateman said it was clear that Petroziello not only had serious mental health issues, but a history of using drugs and alcohol to self medicate, possession of firearms, which he was not allowed to have, and a history of failing to comply with medical treatment for his mental health issues.

"In my judgement, that makes you very dangerous," Bateman said.

Petroziello entered a no contest plea last year to a list of charges including felony attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and attempted murder. It was an open plea, meaning there was no negotiated sentence.

Prosecutors said that Petroziello initially planned to plead guilty but mentally ill, but opted for a no contest plea which means he is not admitting guilt, but confirms the prosecution has enough evidence to convict if the case went to trial.

Yardley man pleads in police shootingYardley man pleads no contest to shooting police chief during a standoff last summer

Petroziello has been incarcerated in Bucks County jail without bail since his arrest.

Both Viviano and Kelly offered victim impact statements as well Kelly's 17-year-old daughter.

Viviano and Kelly noted in their statements that Petroziello has never apologized or taken responsibility for his actions on Aug. 18, 2021.

After he was led back into court following a brief recess, Petroziello looked toward Viviano and Kelly and apologized.

"I'm sorry about what happened that day. I was a different person. I'm sorry it ever happened," he said before Bateman entered the courtroom.

Also testifying were his parents, Ann and Guy Petroziello, who reiterated their efforts to get their son help starting at an early age.

"You're constantly in crisis mode to keep them alive," Ann Petroziello said of adult children who struggle with mental health. "It brings you to your knees."

The shooting took place at the Yardley Commons community in August, 2021 after Colin Petroziello's parents contacted Bucks County Adult Probation and Parole to see if an officer could convince their son to go to his scheduled court hearing on a DUI case in Philadelphia.

Colin Petroziello was on county probation for a previous disorderly conduct incident.

Probation officer Viviano, who substituted for Petroziello's regular officer, was assigned to make the check. She testified at his preliminary hearing Petroziello's parents informed the department before she arrived that their son was having a mental health issue.

Viviano said she heard arguing  in the condo when she knocked on the door. Ann Petroziello, who was also in the condo, started to open the door, when her son slammed it shut from behind. He then barricaded the door with a loveseat.

The probation officer then called 911 to request police assistance, and Kelly arrived shortly afterward.  Kelly, Viviano and Guy Petroziello father all approached the door.

Kelly knocked on the door and identified himself as a police officer, then looked in through a window near the door. He saw Colin Petroziello prone and pointed a shotgun at him from the second floor landing. Colin Petroziello then pulled the trigger, firing once.

Yardley Police Chief Joe Kelly at his release from St.
Yardley Police Chief Joe Kelly at his release from St.  

Yardley chief speaks after shootingInjured Yardley police chief plans quick return after shooting: 'It made me appreciate life more'

Shotgun pellets penetrated the window and door and struck Kelly in the left ear and hand.  Kelly, who has worked in law enforcement for over 30 years, underwent surgery on his left hand to remove 15 pieces of buckshot and treatment for his ear. After recovery he returned to his job leading the local police department.

Neither Viviano or Guy Petroziello, a retired Bucks County Courier Times editor, who were also outside the door, were injured in the shooting.

After the shooting, authorities said Colin Petroziello refused to let his mother leave, though she has denied that she was held against her will.

A SWAT team was assembled and after a four-hour standoff used a special armored vehicle to rescue his mother from a second-floor window. They later used explosives to break down the door and arrest Colin Petroziello, who was intoxicated and unconscious when officers found him.

Police confiscated a shotgun that Ann Petroziello had tossed from a window during the standoff. A pistol was also found in Colin Petroziello's pants waistband when he was arrested.

Colin Petroziello was not allowed to possess the weapons because of a previous active protection-from-abuse order and two prior involuntary mental health commitments. Authorities have never explained how Colin Petroziello obtained the firearms.

How did Yardley suspect get guns?Safeguards to keep guns out of alleged Yardley shooter's hands failed. How?

Suspect's parents tried to get helpInside the Yardley standoff: How years of mental health decline led to the shooting of a police chief

Colin Petroziello's parents have been public about their son's long history of mental illness including paranoid psychosis, anxiety and depression, as well as Asperger's Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism.  They have acknowledged their son self-medicated with alcohol and drugs.

In the weeks before the standoff, his parents maintained their son's mental health showed signs of serious deterioration including increasing signs of delusional, secluded, angry and paranoid behavior, but attempts to get him help were thwarted because he is an adult.

At his plea hearing, Guy Petroziello said that while incarcerated his son has been taking prescribed medications for his mental illness and his behaviors have improved.

This story will be developing. Check back later for updates.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Man sentenced to prison for standoff, shooting of Yardley police chief


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