Crime & Courts

Lakemoor officer who shot, killed murder suspect acted in self-defense, prosecutors say

Officer who killed murder suspect was acting in self-defense, investigators say

Kenneth E. Martell, 36, of Pennsylvania
Kenneth E. Martell, 36, of Pennsylvania

The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office has determined that a Lakemoor police officer was justified in fatally shooting a suspected killer who was on the run from Pennsylvania officials.

On July 26, two Lakemoor police officers were involved in an altercation with an armed man who died after one officer fired a single shot into the man’s vehicle.

Kenneth E. Martell was wanted by police in connection with killing an 88-year-old man and disposing of his body in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Martell’s family has since reported to police that the 36-year-old told friends and family “cops were going to kill him over a drug bust” and that he was “not going down without a fight,” according to a release from the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office sent Wednesday.

The officers involved in the shooting were Briana Tedesco, who has worked for the Lakemoor Police Department for more than a year, and Anthony Loiacono, who has been with the department since 2016.

“The acts of these two skilled officers were masterful and indicative of two people acting in self-defense,” Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said.

The altercation began about 5 a.m. July 25, when Tedesco approached a vehicle that was backed into a gravel access area at Four Seasons Boulevard and Sullivan Lake Road.

Tedesco found Martell asleep in the vehicle and shined a light on him. When he awoke, he told Tedesco that he had been napping and had found the gravel area “by accident,” according to the release.

As Tedesco began to run the vehicle’s rear license plate, Martell reached out the window and pointed a handgun at her, Nerheim wrote.

“Tedesco believed that Martell pulled the trigger of the gun. It did not fire. She immediately pulled the gun with her right hand and pushed it away from her,” Nerheim wrote.

As Tedesco struggled for Martell’s gun, she tried to call on her radio, but the man grabbed her and pulled her back toward the car. She then saw Martell reach for a second gun, the release stated.

That’s when backup officer Loiacono arrived at the scene. He approached the vehicle, told Martell to drop his weapon, then fired a single shot at Martell. Autopsy results showed that he died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Investigators have spent the past four months interviewing witnesses and reviewing body cameras and police squad car video footage that captured the situation.

“At one point, officer Tedesco was able to take a step back from the driver’s door. Mr. Martell then raised both of his hands. Each hand was holding a revolver,” Nerheim wrote. “As Martell raised both hands in the direction of officer Loiacono, he believed that he and fellow officer Tedesco were both in danger of being shot to death. Retreat was not an option.”

A redacted version of the case file tied to the shooting will be available in the coming weeks on the state’s attorney website, Nerheim said.

The Lake County Major Crimes Task Force investigated the situation and learned that on July 23, Martell allegedly tied, robbed, beat and stabbed to death 88-year-old Theodore Garver in his Beaver Township home in Pennsylvania.

After the stabbing, Martell abducted other people at gunpoint and forced them to help him dump the body in a lake near Garver’s home, Nerheim wrote.

There was an active warrant out for Martell’s arrest at the time of the shooting.

Martell’s family later told police that Martell used illegal drugs, including methamphetamine.

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