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Officer Alerts Tenant to Fire, Tenant Says He Was Targeted


Jerry Black had just popped a Xanax for his bipolar disorder putting him into a deep sleep when his wife shook him awake after hearing loud knocking at the door. Outside, Covington Police Officer Mike Lusardi, who had just pulled up to Black's home on Wood Street, was trying to alert anyone that may be inside that the house was engulfed in flames. Lusardi had just assisted in an arrest nearby when the call went out that a house was on fire and he was the first on the scene along with his new partner of six days, Ernie, the department's newest K-9.

Back inside, Black, his wife, and another female finally rose from their slumber, heeding Lusardi's call to make a quick exit and to seek safety across the street. However, there were still a dog and three birds inside so after helping the people reach a safe distance from the flames, Lusardi assisted Black in saving his pets. The Covington Fire Department responded moments later, sweeping through the rest of the house and extinguishing the fire. 
The house, a duplex with one vacant half, is mostly lost. Black had hoped to own the property but said a deal fell through and that someone else also had his eye on the building and Black believes that's the man police should be looking for in this case that is being investigated as arson. "He wants to turn it into a drug house and a whore house," Black said Wednesday afternoon. He is also convinced that this man is the same one that stopped by just hours after the fire and taunted him, promising to torch Black's other house on Banklick Street, a building that is not fit for living yet. "He said, 'I'm a get you white boy'."

"What am I supposed to do? Sleep there?" Black asked. In the meantime, he will be sleeping at the Marriott for the next two nights and then with friends until a suitable home is found. No arrests have been made. 

As for Lusardi, being the first on the scene of a fire and alerting the people inside is just another day on the job. "I feel like I did my job at night. People's lives were in danger," Lusardi said. He has no trouble explaining situations like the Wood Street fire at home. His wife Sarah Lusardi is also a Covington Police officer. Together they have a 9-month old son, Levi. Ernie, the K-9, is the newest member of the family and after rescuing Jerry Black and his two companions from the burning home the officer and his dog hit the streets to respond to more calls, including the busting up of a drug deal at 9th & Main Streets.

Ernie is not ready for drug busts yet, but Lusardi has the K-( in narcotics training starting Wednesday so that he is prepared for future runs. Lusardi, meanwhile, is busy learning his new dog's full German name. "I had to write it down," he said, taking out his smart phone. Ernie Von Diamant Grenze. He'll respond to Ernie, though. Lusardi, however, won't respond to "hero". "I was just doing my job, nothing outrageous."
Investigators believe this is an arson case. If you have any information, call Covington Police at 859.292.2222 or Crime Stoppers at 513.352.3040. 
PHOTO: Interior of burned apartment/RCN