Westerly shooting suspect had previously threatened murder-suicide
The 66-year-old man who police say fatally shot one woman and injured two others before turning the gun on himself at a Westerly housing complex Thursday morning had previously threatened to carry out a murder-suicide and legally obtained a handgun two days before the shooting.
Joseph Giachello, a resident of the Babcock Village complex where police say he carried out the shooting rampage last week, had a history of "being suicidal and homicidal," court records show.
Police said Monday that he shot two complex managers and one resident of the subsidized housing complex for the elderly and disabled a month after receiving a lease violation notice for not complying with a smoking ban.
He told staff at Butler Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Providence in September 2002 that he planned to purchase a gun at Walmart and use it to kill his wife and then himself. He was subsequently admitted to Butler Hospital for being "homicidal and suicidal," according to divorce records filed in Newport Family Court in Rhode Island.
Giachello's now ex-wife, Theresa Morrow, who filed for divorce in 2002 after a seven-month marriage, filed on the grounds of "extreme cruelty and irreconcilable differences," records show.
"These differences were over the fact that there was violence in the relationship," said the records, which state that Giachello was abusing Morrow during their marriage.
Westerly police said they have had nine calls for service with Giachello since 2002, the last being in January 2018.
Last week, Giachello allegedly fired three shots from a revolver in the office area of Babcock Village, fatally striking 47-year-old Westerly resident Julie Cardinal and injuring 38-year-old Robin Moss and 66-year-old Robin Thornley. Ross and Cardinal were managers at Babcock Village, Thornley was a resident.
Giachello was found dead inside his residence in the complex with a self-inflicted gunshot wound shortly after the shooting, police said.
Prior to the shooting, police said, Giachello had received a letter from the complex owner notifying him he was violating terms of his lease by smoking in his residence. The letter, dated Nov. 12, was for “termination of tenancy due to the tenant’s noncompliance,” and if not corrected could result in the termination of his lease.
He also received notification on Nov. 21 from Moss, representing Babcock Village, about an adjustment to his rent payments and of paperwork in need of a signature. Moss’ letter was followed by a second notice on Dec. 12 from Cardinal.
Police on Monday revealed more details about the gun used in the shooting. They said Giachello completed paperwork and paid for a .38-caliber revolver from Hope Valley Bait & Tackle in Wyoming, R.I. on Nov. 11. The gun was released to him on Dec. 17, two days before the shooting.
On Monday, family members of Cardinal were planning a memorial service for the mother of the four.
Cardinal was a lifelong Westerly resident who worked multiple jobs in Westerly and Misquamicut. She was actively involved in her community, as a former volunteer and employee of the Misquamicut Business Association. She was engaged and had two sons and two daughters, her obituary said.
Moss, who was from Cranston, was still fighting for her life Monday at Yale New Haven Hospital, where she was taken by Life Star helicopter on Thursday afternoon. She was still in critical condition Monday, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.
Thornley was taken to Rhode Island Hospital where she underwent surgery and was in stable condition and is expected to recover, police said.
A GoFundMe page set up for Cardinal's family by Westerly resident Sophia Read had raised more than $57,000 by Monday to help Cardinal's family pay for funeral expenses, surpassing its goal of $25,000 with more than 1,000 donations.
Gabby Young, Cardinal's goddaughter and cousin, told The Day that her godmother "was an amazing person, a beautiful soul and did not deserve any of this." "This will impact our family for the rest of our lives," Young said.
Groton resident Tammy de la Cruz, a friend of Cardinal's, said she "had a heart of gold."
De la Cruz said that when her son Joey Gingerella was shot and killed outside a Groton bar in 2016, Cardinal offered her support.
"I respected her so much because she was a very open person and shared life with all that knew her," de la Cruz said. "My heart hurts for her family and the entire community."
According to her obituary, Cardinal loved music and singing.
Gene Arganese, her friend of 14 years and former employer at the Sandy Shore Motel and Gino's By the Beach in Misquamicut, said Cardinal also loved the beach.
After Hurricane Sandy, said Arganese, Cardinal was out on the beach in Misquamicut to help clean up. This year, she was helping Arganese plan a new car raffle to benefit St. Jude's Children's Hospital, which will now be held in her honor.
Cardinal was also a member of the Westerly Lodge of Elks BPOE 678 and a former member of the Chariho Rotary Club and was actively involved with the Westerly Yacht Club, especially efforts to allow women to join the club, according to her obituary.
A celebration of life for Cardinal will be held at the yacht club at 1 p.m. Friday.
The Westerly Police Department and Rhode Island State police are still conducting a joint investigation of the shooting.
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