Community gathers to support victims of Westerly shooting

Stonington — In the aftermath of December's shooting in neighboring Westerly, the community has found another way to come together, beyond vigils, with a fundraiser for the three victims.

Julie Cardinal, 47, was killed when Joseph Giachello, 66, shot her and two others in an office area at Babcock Village, a subsidized assisted-living housing complex on Cross Street. Robin Moss, 38 and Donna Thornley, 66, were also shot and sent to the hospital. Giachello killed himself.

Thornley, a resident at Babcock, was shot once. Moss in particular faced a difficult road back to health after sustaining three gunshot wounds. Friends began a gofundme page for Moss and her family because of the financial impact of her injuries, including medical bills and lost wages. So far, the effort has raised more than $22,000 of the $30,000 goal. Moss was recently moved out of the intensive care unit.

Phoenix Dining & Entertainment in Pawcatuck held a fundraiser from 2 to 11 p.m. Sunday. People were charged $20 at the door and paid for raffle tickets for dozens of items, gift cards and other merchandise donated by area businesses. Phoenix owner Richard Mann said approximately 200 gifts were donated for the benefit.

While all proceeds from the ticket and raffle sales will be donated to the three victims and their families, Mike Cardinal, Julie's father, said Sunday his family isn't taking any of the money.

"The biggest thing our family is looking for — my four grandchildren, they lost their mother, but they got a gofundme project that did pretty well — is there was another woman who was shot, and she's still in the hospital, and she looks like she has a real long way to go, so we've asked any proceeds that come from this, go to her," Cardinal said.

A gofundme for Julie Cardinal's children raised almost $60,000.

Mike Cardinal said the many family members who came to the event wanted to show up to help raise more money for Moss.

Sunday's benefit featured six bands — Alter Ego, Counterfeit Cash, SouthBound, Wild Nights, Branded and Sarah Thompson and special guests — who all donated "their time and talent," according to a sign at the entrance of Phoenix. Between 130 and 150 people were in attendance at any time, with a steady stream of folks coming in and out. People danced, sang, laughed, ate and drank.

An empty and quiet backroom had 19 framed photos of a grinning Julie Cardinal, provided by the family, sitting atop several tables.

Tammy Pugsley-Paul of Ashaway, R.I., said she felt a connection to Sunday's event. She works at the Frank Olean Center, which offers support and services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She said some of her coworkers knew Julie Cardinal.

Pugsley-Paul helped out Sunday after learning of the fundraiser when she came to Phoenix with her boyfriend on Friday.

Mann said he was friends with Julie Cardinal. He said when he heard of the tragedy on the radio, he knew "we had to do something quick."

"We wanted to do an event, not just for the Cardinal family, but all the families," Mann said. "We wanted to make the event have another purpose, too, and that is raising awareness for mental health."

Mann said Julie Cardinal was well-known in the area, and she loved music, so when he posted on Facebook looking for willing bands to play on Sunday, more than a handful volunteered.

"The idea is to bring friends, family and the community together to celebrate Julie's life and to support and pray for the other victims," Mann said.

s.spinella@theday.com

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