Fulton County, GA – Atlanta Police Department (APD) Detective James “J.J.” Biello died in the line of duty on July 28, after suffering complications from gunshot wounds he sustained while stopping an armed robbery over 32 years earlier.
Det. Biello had been with APD for 15 years when he went to work at his second job at Provino’s Italian Restaurant on Roswell Road Northeast on April 15, 1987, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The veteran detective and another off-duty officer were outside the restaurant when they spotted two suspicious men drive up to the business.
One went inside, and Det. Biello headed in after him.
The armed suspect, later identified as 17-year-old David Timothy Moore, was actively robbing the Italian restaurant when the detective came up behind him and identified himself, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The gunman spun around and opened fire, sending bullets into Det. Biello’s abdomen and chest.
The detective was able to return fire, wounding his attacker.
As the detective lay bleeding on the floor, Moore fired another round into his neck, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Moore attempted to flee the scene, but was quickly apprehended.
He was later convicted of armed robbery and aggravated assault, and was sentenced to 60 years in prison, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Although Det. Biello survived the attack, one of the bullets severed his spine.
He was rendered quadriplegic, and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Prior to his career-ending line-of-duty injuries, Det. Biello also spent time working as an undercover narcotics officer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Just three years after the nearly deadly encounter, Det. Biello ran for a Cherokee County commissioner seat, and won by a landslide.
He continued to serve the community as a commissioner for the next 14 years.
“He loved being a commissioner,” said his brother, Tony Biello, according to the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News. “He would go out every day to see what he could do for people.”
Former Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison said that Det. Biello helped him run for office back in 1992.
“He was a tireless worker for our campaign,” the recently retired sheriff told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He was so resilient. Everything was so painful. It took him an hour to get out of his house. He was a living Superman to endure a schedule like that.”
After Sheriff Garrison was elected, Det. Biello pushed him to make sure every deputy on the force was issued a ballistic vest, the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News reported.
The 68-year-old retired detective passed away at his home on July 28, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
It was later determined that his death was caused by complications stemming from his line-of-duty gunshot wounds, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Moore, who is now 50 years old, may face additional charges as a result of Det. Biello’s death, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Howard said that Det. Biello was known throughout the city as a “larger-than-life figure,” WXIA reported.
“[It was] impossible not to know him if you worked in the Fulton County criminal justice system,” the district attorney added.
“He lived a life of duty and honor,” another commission colleague, Gil Howard, told the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News. “Never once did I see him engage in self-pity or complain about the hand he was dealt. We have been made better people by having known him.”
Det. Biello leaves behind two sons, Ross and Alex.
“I’m privileged to have had him as a father,” Ross told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Whatever he did as a cop, he did more as a dad.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Atlanta Police Department Detective James “J.J.” Biello, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.