ShareThis Page

McKeesport man held for charges from fire that injured officer

| Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 4:31 a.m.
McKeesport firefighters douses hot spots from the porch roof at 413 Long Run Road during the January 30 fire after McKeesport police Lt. Joe Lopretto was injured at the scene.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport firefighters douses hot spots from the porch roof at 413 Long Run Road during the January 30 fire after McKeesport police Lt. Joe Lopretto was injured at the scene.

McKeesport police Lt. Joe Lopretto still is recovering from injuries sustained during a house fire in January. He was in district court Monday when Gordon Brown, the man accused of causing Lopretto's injuries, was held on all charges.

“The first thing I would like to do is apologize that you got injured,” Brown, who represented himself, told Lopretto at a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi. “My house was on fire. My mother was crying. My cats were burning up.”

Brown is charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, obstructing the administration of law or government and disorderly conduct.

He said he felt it necessary to apologize for his actions, even if the statement would be admissible as evidence at his trial in Common Pleas Court, scheduled for Aug. 2.

“I don't feel that aggravated assault against a police officer is an appropriate charge,” Brown told the judge. “Maybe disorderly conduct, because I was out of order.”

Brown's residence at 431 Long Run Road was burning on Jan. 30 when Lopretto arrived on scene. Brown was standing in the front doorway, attempting to douse a fully involved blaze with a garden hose.

Lopretto told Brown firefighters were on their way and ordered him to stand with neighbors as authorities evaluated the scene.

According to a criminal complaint, McKeesport police Asst, Chief Tom Greene also had ordered Brown to keep his distance from the home.

“Greene noticed the fire department personnel were having to move around Brown, who had only moved a few feet ... (Greene) pulled Brown out of the way of the fire personnel and ordered him to leave the area for a second time,” the report indicated.

Lopretto testified that Brown obeyed the orders until he heard his mother shout that a cat was trapped inside. When Brown ran toward a rear window of the house, Lopretto called for him to stop, and followed him.

“There was a slime on the deck, and my feet went out from under me,” Lopretto said. “My head hit, and I don't remember too much after that.”

Lopretto stammered through his testimony, the result of a severe concussion that still is affecting his speech and vision.

“My speech has gotten a lot better,” he said. “At the beginning, I couldn't get words out.”

Lopretto takes part in daily therapy, including vision and vestibular regimens. He has taken several medications and is not permitted to drive. He has torn muscles in his right shoulder, an injury that cannot be addressed at this stage of his recovery from the head injury.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.