WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) — Betty and John Miner were inside their first-floor apartment at Babcock Village Thursday morning when they started hearing what they called “popping noises” coming from the hallway.
“I heard what I thought was Christmas tree bulbs popping out in the hallway and I went out there, of course, which I shouldn’t have done,” Betty Miner said.
Betty said that’s when she saw a woman lying on the floor — suffering from a gunshot wound.
“It was just an awful sight,” she recalled.
“It was absolutely horrible,” John added. “Something I will never forget.”
Later in the afternoon, police learned Joseph Giachello, a resident of the complex, was the person who opened fire in the main lobby of the housing complex.
Police said two Babcock Village managers were shot, one fatally. Julie Lynn Cardinal, 47, was pronounced dead at the scene and Robin Moss, 38, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
A third woman, identified as Donna Thornley, 66, was also shot. Police said she is a resident and is now in stable condition.
Once the Miners — who had moved into the housing complex only two months prior — realized what was happening, they took shelter inside their apartment.
“We were petrified all day long,” Betty said. “Nobody knew where the shooter was. They didn’t know if he was in the building, or outside, or what. [Police] eventually went door to door and found him.”
Giachello, 66, was later found dead in his residence from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Miners said they’re still shaken up from witnessing the sudden act of violence.
Betty said she personally knew Cardinal and is heartbroken by the loss. She said Cardinal was a vital part of the community.
“She was such a sweet person,” Betty said. “We were just in her office two weeks ago.”
The Miners are among the hundreds of Westerly residents coping with the tragedy — which shocked the seaside community to its core.
“You think it isn’t going to happen here, or to me, or anybody — and everybody says that, but it can,” John said.