Le Roy Police Officer Ryan Young, left, is pictured Wednesday with Village Police Chief Christopher Hayward.
Le Roy Police Officer Ryan Young was honored by his department Wednesday, for his actions at the scene of a house fire and armed standoff Dec. 1 on Selden Road.
Village Police Chief Christopher Hayward presented Young with a Distinguished Service Award and accompanying bar during Wednesday’s Village Board meeting.
Kyle G. Johnson, 53, has been charged with murder in the shooting death of John Ball, 69. Johnson is accused of then setting his own house on fire, and firing a shotgun in the direction of responding firefighters and police officers.
None of that was clear when Young and Hayward arrived to back up Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies at the scene of the shooting shortly after 4 a.m. at Ball’s home at 7421 Selden Road.
The fire at Johnson’s house was reported minutes later. Genesee County deputies approved Young’s request to provide backup at the fire.
“I just had a feeling on my way from the homicide scene to the fire that it was too close to be a coincidence,” said Young, 27, a part-time village officer for three years.
“That’s when dispatch sent out the warning and kind of confirmed my suspicions,” he said.
Hayward continued the narrative, in a letter of commendation addressed to Young.
He said Young stopped just east of the fire scene and got out of his vehicle. Three Le Roy Fire Department vehicles passed Young on their way to the fire.
“You observed the silhouette of a person walk from the brush and point a long gun in (firefighters’) direction and fire two to three times,” Hayward said.
Firefighters quickly left the scene. As Young took cover he heard two shots being fired in his direction, and saw something pass over his left shoulder, Hayward said.
After the gunfire became a standoff, Young established a perimeter and directed residents of the neighboring home to take shelter in their basement, Hayward said.
“For the next three and a half hours you used different positions of cover — always in harm’s way — and continually called in the suspect’s location to other units at the scene,” Hayward said.
“Eventually the suspect was taken into custody,” he continued. “But I attribute the successful outcome to you and the exceptional actions you took after being fired upon.”
Johnson was arrested at 7:55 a.m. by members of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team.
He entered not guilty pleas to murder, burglary, arson and attempted murder during an arraignment Tuesday in County Court. He remains in jail without bail.
Hayward also read a letter from county Sheriff Gary Maha, offering “thanks and appreciation” for Ryan’s help and for the assistance of the village police department.
“This is another fine example of cooperation and collaboration between our two agencies,” Maha wrote.
Hayward said the incident is a reminder of the hazards law enforcement officers face every working day.
“We don’t walk out the door with a lunch pail,” Hayward said. “We walk out the door with body armor and a gun.
“I bristle when people tell me, ‘It can’t happen here,’ ” he added. “Well, it can happen here, it did happen here, and unfortunately with the society we live in today, it certainly can happen again.”