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Former NDSP officer killed in shootout

Fowler, Ken and Berrios, Marcela | Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cpl. Nick Polizzotto, a South Bend policeman who formerly worked for Notre Dame Security/Police (NDSP), was shot and killed by a gunman early Tuesday morning.

Polizzotto was killed during a shootout in which an armed suspect died and another officer – Patrolman Michael Norby – was wounded, South Bend police said.

The officers were investigating a report of gunshots near the Wooden Indian Motel on Lincoln Way East at 1:37 a.m., Police Chief Tom Fautz told the Associated Press. A gunman shot at the officers, who returned fire, Fautz said.

NDSP Director Phil Johnson said Polizzotto, 34, joined NDSP in the late 1990s, though he couldn’t provide specific dates. Polizzotto had worked for South Bend police for nine years.

“On behalf of everybody at NDSP, I offer my condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of fallen Corporal Polizzotto,” Johnson said. “His is a tragic loss for our police force and for anyone who had the pleasure of knowing him, and our hearts will always remember him.”

According to The Officer Down Memorial Page, a Web site devoted to keeping records of slain law enforcement officers, 52 officers nationwide were killed as a result of gunfire in the last year. Polizzotto became the 23rd officer killed by gunfire in 2007, the site said.

Polizzotto was killed a year and a day after the death of South Bend Cpl. Lee Severns, who was shot while off duty on April 21, 2006.

Before Severns’ death, only one South Bend officer had been killed by gunfire since 1973. Cpl. Paul Deguch was killed by a suspect he was questioning on August 24, 1997.

Polizzotto’s death sparked responses from local leaders.

“I am deeply grateful for the life and service of Corp. Nick Polizzotto. He was an outstanding officer and his life was far too short,” South Bend Mayor Stephen J. Luecke said in a statement. “I am also deeply grateful that Patrolman Michael Norby will recover from his wounds. Our thoughts and prayers are with these officers, their families and friends.

Luecke requested that all area establishments lower their flags to half-staff in honor of Polizzotto.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.