DA: Shooting by Coatesville Police deemed justified

Two officers reportedly returned fire after convicted felon shot at them

By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, The Times

Andre E. “Needles” Fiorentino, 32, is accused of firing at two Coatesville Police officers after they asked him for identification Saturday morning, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said.

Andre E. “Needles” Fiorentino, 32, is accused of firing at two Coatesville Police officers after they asked him for identification Saturday morning, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said.

An 0fficer-involved shooting early Saturday morning has been ruled justified by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, District Attorney Tom Hogan said Sunday afternoon.

Andre E. “Needles” Fiorentino, 32, a convicted felon, fired two shots at uniformed Coatesville police officers in the 700 block of Merchant Street about 1 a.m., Hogan said. The officers both returned fire, striking the defendant multiple times, Hogan said. The officers were not hit, and Fiorentino remains in stable condition at Paoli Hospital, Hogan said.

Hogan said the investigation into the shooting by Chester County Detectives, which included interviews with the two officers involved, the officers who responded to the scene, the emergency personnel, and citizens in the area of the shooting, resulted in the following scenario:

At 1 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23, two Coatesville police officers were on patrol in full uniform in a marked police vehicle the 700 block of Merchant Street, a high-crime and high-drug area. The officers observed Fiorentino looking into the windows of cars parked in the area, approached him, and asked him for identification, Hogan said.

Fiorentino responded that he would not provide identification and started reaching into the front waist area of his pants, raising the suspicion that he was reaching for a gun.  The front officer pulled his Taser and instructed Fiorentino to stop what he was doing; instead, Fiorentino pulled out a gun and fired two shots at the officers but did not hit them, Hogan said.

Both officers returned fire with their service weapons.  Fiorentino was struck multiple times and fell to the ground, dropping his gun.  As the officers approached him, he reached for his gun and yelled: “F— you, you pigs can’t kill me!”  The officers moved the firearm away from Fiorentino, and emergency personnel responded to transport him to Paoli Hospital, Hogan said.

Pursuant to the standard Chester County law enforcement protocol for officer-involved shootings, the Coatesville Police Department secured the area, and Coatesville Police Chief Jack Laufer immediately called in the Chester County Detectives to investigate the incident.  As the Chester County Detectives arrived at the scene, further gunshots were heard in the area, Hogan said.

The gun used by the defendant to shoot at the two officers – a  .38-caliber, five-shot revolver – was recovered on the street; it contained two spent shell casings, two live shell casings, and one shell casing that had been struck by the firing pin but did not discharge, Hogan said.  The revolver had been stolen a year ago Johnstown, Pa., he said.

On the way to the hospital, a second gun was recovered from Fiorentino’s clothing inside the ambulance.  The second gun was a .40-caliber, semi-automatic handgun with a live round in the chamber and an obliterated serial number, Hogan said.

The two officers involved in the shooting are both military veterans.  One officer served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and 16 years with the Pennsylvania State Police before his employment with the Coatesville Police Department.  The second officer served 14 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including four combat tours, prior to working for the Coatesville Police Department.  Hogan said under normal security procedures, the officers’ names would not be released at this time.

“The Coatesville Police Department responded appropriately and professionally throughout this incident,” said Hogan.  “Given the defendant’s conduct, the defendant was lucky he was not killed, and Chester County is lucky that two police officers are not dead.  In Chester County, we will not permit our police officers to be targeted.  It will be a long time before this defendant sees blue sky again.”

Coatesville Police Chief Jack Laufer said he appreciated the quick and thorough response of the District Attorney’s Office and the County Detectives. “This response and cooperative effort through the investigation and prosecution stages will assure a successful outcome, making the citizens of Coatesville and all Chester County safer as a result,” Laufer said.

The defendant will be charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, persons not to possess firearms, and related criminal offenses, Hogan said. Court records show that Fiorentino has a criminal history dating back to 1997 when he received a two- to four-year prison term after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and robbery. Fiorentino, who was 16 at the time, unsuccessfully challenged the fact that he was tried as an adult, records said.

In 2001, Fiorentino again pleaded guilty to robbery and received a six- to 12-year jail term, records said. A 2010 robbery/kidnapping case was nol-prossed right before trial when a victim decided not to testify, police said. In 2011, court records showed that Fiorentino pleaded guilty to harassment and was sentenced to three to 12 months in jail and ordered to take an anger-management class.

Joseph DiGiorgio, the solicitor for the Chester County Fraternal Order of Police, echoed Laufer’s praise of the District Attorney’s Office and the Chester County Detectives.  “The FOP supports the decision of District Attorney Tom Hogan regarding the charging of this defendant and the justification of the police officers involved,” DiGiorgio said.








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