Q&A: How police teamed up to investigate deadly shooting in Westerly

South County

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It was a collaborative effort between state, local and federal authorities to secure the scene of a deadly shooting in Westerly Thursday afternoon.

The incident took place Thursday morning at Babcock Village on Cross Street, where police said resident Joseph Giachello opened fire in the main lobby.

Police said two managers of the housing complex were shot, one fatally. Julie Lynn Cardinal, 47, was pronounced dead at the scene and Robin Moss, 38, remains in critical condition.

A third woman, identified as Donna Thornley, 66, was also shot. Police said she is a resident of the housing complex and is currently in stable condition.

Giachello, 66, was later found dead in his residence from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Target 12: Westerly suspected killer threatened murder-suicide in the past »

Below is a Q&A with Eyewitness News Law Enforcement Analyst and the former Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Steven O’Donnell on the tactical response to the incident.

In these cases how do you decide what the response is, at what point are those decisions made and what exactly are you looking at?

O’Donnell: “This particular one — not having inside information to it — just knowing that they’re responding to someone shooting. It’s about getting the appropriate personnel down there — state, local, federal law enforcement — so you have the state police, the local police, you have SWAT teams responding and how to coordinate those SWAT teams while it’s evolving and making sure they’re getting real-time intelligence and finding out what happened.”

Police said they used a robot to enter the suspect’s apartment. What exactly does that do and why?

O’Donnell: “So the robot — you can lose a robot. You’re not losing lives, the robot is for safety. It’s utilized quite a bit, where the robot will open a door, it has access, it can break things and see things. There’s a video camera on the robot so that — in real-time — it can send it out to the SWAT team who can see what’s inside. In this particular case, it appeared the suspect had killed himself.”

As previously mentioned, in cases like this one, several agencies are involved. What’s the relationship like between state and local police?

O’Donnell: “That’s a good question. It’s a coordinated effort when there’s an active shooter — trying to get all law enforcement on top of it because you don’t know what it is. It could be, and I don’t mean to minimize it, as simple as a crime that happened, it could be assault with a dangerous weapon — to a homicide, an active shooter or a terrorist incident. So you have to make sure that all the players are there for state, local and federal authorities. You want to make sure that your personnel is safe and you want to minimize loss of life for civilians. Those are the three most important things.”

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