Westerly police ID victims, suspect in housing complex shooting

South County

WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) — As police continue to investigate a shooting at a Westerly housing complex, on Friday they released the names of the three women shot and the suspected gunman.

The incident took place around 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the main lobby area of Babcock Village on Cross Street.

Julie Lynn Cardinal, 47, of Westerly, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say she was a manager at the housing complex along with Robin Moss, who was also shot.

People who knew Cardinal said she was a vital part of the Westerly community.

Westerly Town Councilor Suzanne Giorno said she was good friends with Cardinal and saw her last week on her birthday.

“She’s been a great friend over the years and we’ve had a lot of fun,” Giorno said. “She was full of spunk and definitely told you what was on her mind.”

One of the other shooting victims, Moss, 38, of Cranston, is also a manager at the housing complex and remains in critical condition at the hospital.

The final victim, Donna Thornley, 66, was a resident of Babcock Village and police say she’s in stable condition.

Westerly Public Schools, Hospital and even some area businesses were on lockdown for more than two hours as police hunted for the person responsible for the shooting.

Timeline: See how the events unfolded »

The suspect, identified Friday as Joseph Giachello, 66, who was also a resident of the complex, was eventually found dead inside his unit.

“The suspect was located through video surveillance at the front office where one of the victims was,” R.I. State Police Col. James Manni said Thursday. “The door was opened, the robot entered and found the suspect who appeared to have a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Police said they are still investigating Giachello’s relationships with the victims and a possible motive for the shooting.

Westerly and Rhode Island State police returned to the scene Friday morning, saying they expect to release more information as they work to piece together the events leading up to the shooting.

Giachello was known to Westerly police, Chief Shawn Lacey said, though he didn’t elaborate.

There has been an outpouring of community support since the attack.

A prayer service was held Friday evening at Christ Episcopal Church in Cardinal’s memory.

Cardinal’s daughter, Hannah Bettencourt, tells Eyewitness News she’s struggling with the loss of her mom but is thankful for the outpouring of support her family has received.

“She knew a lot of people that I didn’t even know, so the love from everybody is really great,” Bettencourt said.

A GoFundMe page for Cardinal’s family had raised more than $47,000, far surpassing its $25,000 goal.

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