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--- Issued Dec. 28, 2010

The Board of the Housing Authority of the City of Erie recognized the heroism of two Erie Police Officers at their meeting on Monday, December 27, 2010 at 1:15 p.m. at their offices in Schmid Towers, 606 Holland Street.

Honoring two of Erie's finest on December 27 were, from left, Agnes Priscaro, Board
Chair Housing Authority of the City of Erie; Mayor Joseph Sinnott; Corporal Thomas Covatto; Patrolman Marc Bellotti; John E. Horan; Erie Chief of Police Stephen Franklin.

Corporal Thomas Covatto and Patrolman Marc Bellotti were honored for their actions during the November 8 fire at 2120B Gladstone Court, which is owned by the Erie Housing Authority.

Corporal Covatto and Patrolman Bellotti were the first responders on site shortly after the 911 call was made at approximately 3:00 a.m. on November 9.

The roofs of the six apartments were completely engulfed in flames when the officers arrived. After activating their lights and sirens, both officers began pounding on doors to alert the residents. Corporal Covatto entered one apartment, went to the second floor bedroom and evacuated two young children. Both officers assisted in the evacuation of two other apartments.

After all 19 members of the six families who lost their homes were accounted for, Officers Bellotti and Covatto provided names to the American Red Cross for their use in assisting the families.

Finally, the officers assisted in transporting the victims to the Housing Authority Community Building at 730 Tacoma Road for temporary shelter.

Because of Corporal Covatto’s and Patrolman Bellotti’s alertness and bravery, in all likelihood, a tragedy was avoided that could have included injuries or deaths.

The two officers have been part of the special C.O.P.P.S. unit that patrols public housing neighborhoods for the last 8 years. Both have been on the police force since 1999.

According to John E. Horan, executive director of the Housing Authority, “we recognize these officers for their actions on November 9, and for their on-going dedication to their oath, to protect and serve the citizens of Erie."