No charges for deputy who fired shot into home

The township has no law that forbids discharging a firearm within its limits.



BOARDMAN — The off-duty Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department major who fired a bullet into his neighbor’s home while in pursuit of an ill raccoon will not be tried criminally, prosecutors say.

Boardman police dropped their investigation of Maj. James Lewandowski on Aug. 27 at the advice of county prosecutors, said township Capt. Jack Nichols.

Lewandowski’s neighbor, Buchanan Drive resident Karen DeSalvo, 51, said was putting away dishes Aug. 20 when she heard gunfire. Initially, she thought she had dropped a plate.

DeSalvo’s husband, Dominic, was outraged when he found a bullet on the floor, not far from his wife’s feet.

“When I’m in my home with my wife in Boardman, I really don’t anticipate being fired on,” he said.

But is not illegal to discharge a firearm in Boardman Township, said county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains. Unlike neighboring cities Youngstown and Struthers, the township has no law that forbids discharging a firearm within its limits, said Gains.

Neither did Lewandowski violate a law that forbids firing a firearm into an inhabited dwelling, said Gains, because his bullet was not intended for his neighbor’s home.

“Shooting into an inhabited dwelling requires the intent to shoot into the house,” the prosecutor said. “He tried to kill what he thought was a rabid animal.”

Nichols said it’s common for police to fire at raccoons and other animals in the line of duty.

“We shoot probably half-a-dozen raccoons a week out here,” he said.

Dominic DeSalvo said he received a letter from Lewandowski’s attorney promising to pay for damages and stating that his neighbor would like to apologize in person. But DeSalvo isn’t satisfied.

He said he plans to file a civil suit against Lewandowski.

“When you fire a round on your property, it’s not like it’s going to hit the property line and drop,” DeSalvo said. “He ought to know better.”

Lewandowski did not return requests for an interview.

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