ITHACA, N.Y. — Two Ithaca police officers who apprehended a man who was ultimately sentenced to 12 years in prison for opening fire and shooting someone in the Ithaca Commons this spring were commended Monday afternoon for their actions.
Officers Sarah Crews and Lewis Morse were presented with the Frank G. Hammer Officer of the Month Award from the Kiwanis Club of Ithaca-Cayuga.
Both officers were among the first at the scene when shots were fired in the early morning hours of April 9, directly in front of Silky Jones in the Ithaca Commons as hundreds of people were leaving the bars at closing time.
As officers worked to secure the scene, Crews saw a man matching the description of the shooter near the intersection of South Cayuga and East State streets. Crews was able to approach him and, without further violence, get the suspect on the ground until more officers arrived.
Officer Morse arrived shortly afterward and was able to disarm the suspect, finding 17 additional bullets in the man’s pocket.
Yakez Cornett, 22, was eventually convicted after police were able to obtain enough evidence to prove that he shot a man five times after a verbal argument. Two other stray shots were found lodged in nearby planters.
During the award ceremony Monday, Acting Police Chief Pete Tyler said, “There is no doubt that your swift actions probably prevented police officers or somebody else from getting hurt or possibly killed, so we can’t take that fore granted. We can’t pretend that isn’t a fact.”
District Attorney Matt Van Houten said, “This could have really been a much more violent situation but their professionalism and the way that this was handled…probably could have saved lives.”
He said their work and commitment to stick with the administrative needs of the case resulted in charged that held up in court.
Cornett was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading to first-degree assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in October.
The Frank G. Hammer Officer of the Month Award from the Kiwanis Club of Ithaca-Cayuga has been awarded to a different police agency every month to honor the good work of police officers in the area since the 1980s.
Featured image: (Left to right) Acting Police Chief Pete Tyler, Officer Sarah Crews, Officer Lewis Morse, District Attorney Matt Van Houten, Deputy Police Chief Vincent Monticello, and Mimi Melegrito, president of the Kiwanis Club of Ithaca-Cayuga, at the awards ceremony for Officer of the Month for November 2017. Photo by Jolene Almendarez/The Ithaca Voice