TRUMBULL CO., Ohio (WKBN) – There are many remembrances throughout Girard and Trumbull County for fallen police officer Justin Leo. The latest will happen at Friday’s high school football game at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Indians football team will remember Leo with specially made stickers on their helmets. The stickers bear Leo’s initials, JL and his badge number 324.
“Anything we do we do just to help out. It is our way of trying to honor them, honor the family and bring the community together,” said Coach Pat Pearson
Leo was a 2004 graduate of Girard High School and had a long involvement with Indians sports, mainly on the youth level. Athletic Director Nick Cochran knew him well.
“He’d come in and coach for free. He’d umpire for free. He did a lot for our community with the young kids,” Cochran said.
A moment of silence will be held for Leo before the game. The cheerleaders and dance line will wear blue bows in their hair to honor him, and the band is wearing special ribbons, too. Many will give up wearing Halloween costumes to proudly put on a t-shirt honoring the fallen officer.
Band Director D.J. Colella said he thinks of a Leonard Bernstein quote during this solemn time. “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
“Whenever something like this happens, you want to put that energy into making even more powerful music, in honor,” Colella said.
It will be an emotional game, not to mention a classic rivalry game. Knightline Embroidery is providing the helmet stickers and the team is ready to play.
“They know it is going to be a special night Friday night, and they feel honored they get an opportunity to bring healing back to the town,” Pearson said.
Girard will not be alone. The Liberty football team will also be wearing the special helmet stickers honoring Justin Leo
Other stickers honoring Leo are also available at Nightline Embroidery, Dairy Queen, Black Horse Tavern and Royal Gardens in Girard. Some of them have the letters EOW on them to stand for End of Watch, and they include Leo’s badge number at the bottom.
The stickers are selling fast with proceeds going to the Leo family.
Another local business is helping to honor Leo’s life and help his family.
This Saturday Jimmy’s Italian Specialties will donate all profits from all sales to the Leo family.
A guest book will be at the front of store for visitors to sign for the family.
Customers wearing blue will receive a free Mini Cannoli.
“Our community is what makes all of our businesses thrive, and I feel that this is just something that we should do to give back,” said owner Frank Occhibove.
Officer Justin Leo was a frequent customer of Jimmy’s Italian Specialties.
His favorite sandwich the “Jimmy V” will now carry his name.
Trumbull County company Select Sportswear is offering t-shirts in memory of slain Girard Police Officer Justin Leo.
The store will be selling the shirts on Wednesday at its stores on E. Market Street in Howland and N. Main Street in Niles.
The front of the shirt says “Never Forgotten” and the back says “In Loving Memory: Officer Justin Leo,” depicting a thin blue line American flag.
All proceeds from the first 100 shirts sold will be donated to Officer Leo’s family. After that, some of the proceeds will be taken out to pay for the cost of the shirt and the rest will go to the family.
Megan McCarty is president of Select Sportswear and is a former reserve officer with the Struthers Police Department. She says making the shirts was tough.
“As I was burning the screens for this t-shirt, I started tearing up a little bit,” McCarty said. “Any time that a senseless act of violence takes one of us it hits home.”
Select Sportswear will not receive any of the proceeds and its employees are donating their time.
The company is asking for $10 per shirt but encourages customers to pay more as a donation to the family. Their goal is to raise $1,000.
This Saturday, Jimmy’s Italian Specialties on Belmont Avenue will donate all profits from its sales to Officer Leo’s family.
Everyone wearing blue will receive a free mini cannoli.
Jimmy’s said Justin was a frequent customer.
Meanwhile, a billboard on the 711 connector through Youngstown pays tribute to Officer Leo.
The Girard Class of 2004 placed the billboard to pay tribute to their classmate and honor his service to the city.
WKBN has set up an online form for viewers to leave memories of how Officer Leo touched their lives, as well as messages of condolence for the family.
Leave your message below (If you are viewing this on the WKBN app, click here to view the form on WKBN.com):