Westerly shooting suspect picked up gun two days before killing

South County

WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) – The man accused of fatally shooting a woman and injuring two others in Westerly obtained a .38-caliber revolver two days before he used it in the deadly attack, police have confirmed.

Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey on Monday issued new details related to the investigation of Joseph Giachello, who is accused of killing Julie Cardinal, 47, and wounding Robin Moss, 38, and Donna Thornley, 66, before turning the gun on himself.

The 66-year-old suspect filed paperwork and paid for the firearm at Hope Valley Bait & Tackle in Wyoming, R.I., on Nov. 11, according to police. He then picked it up on Dec. 17 – two days before using it in the fatal attack at his housing complex Babcock Village, police said.

The firearm was purchased legally, according to Lacey, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether Giachello had to disclose any mental health issues as part of the process.

Lacey said he’s not disclosing any information on the gun application at this time, and a call to Hope Valley Bait & Tackle was answered but then hung up after the caller said he was as a reporter for WPRI 12.

Court documents show Giachello threatened to buy a gun, kill his estranged wife and then himself in 2002 before he was admitted to Butler Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Providence.

Westerly police also had nine calls for service involving Giachello since that same year including some related to mental health incidents. The last contact happened in January 2018, according to Lacey.

“The investigation into the incident at Babcock Village … remains active as detectives from the Westerly Police Department and the Rhode Island State Police continue to establish a timeline of events, as well as process all the evidence collected,” Lacey said in a statement.

In addition to the details about the gun, police also released a timeline of events leading up to the shooting, which included interactions between two of the victims and Giachello.

A day after he paid for the gun in November, Babcock Village reportedly issued Giachello an eviction warning after suspecting him of smoking in his residence.

As a result, Babcock Village employee Moss sent him a notice on Nov. 21 telling him his rent would be adjusted as a result of the violation and that his signature was required. On Dec. 12, Cardinal – who also worked at the housing facility – sent Giachello a follow-up notice.

The following week, police said, Giachello obtained the gun and then shot and killed Cardinal and put Moss into critical condition. Lacey on Monday said Moss remained in critical condition after going through multiple surgeries.

Thornley, a fellow Babcock Village resident, was reportedly in stable condition and is expected to make a positive recovery, Lacey said.

“Further information will be released as the investigation continues,” Lacey said.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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