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Westerly shooting suspect left behind note before taking own life

Target 12

WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) – Two days before opening fire in the lobby of Babcock Village in Westerly, Joseph Giachello called his cable provider requesting his service be shut off because he didn’t “have much time left and would be dead.”

Giachello, 66, made good on the warning on Dec. 19 when he shot and killed one woman and injured two others before turning the gun on himself, according to police. The ominous call to Cox Communications on Dec. 17 was one of several new details related to the investigation revealed in two search warrants obtained by Target 12.

According to one warrant, police seized several items from Giachello’s apartment, including a .38 caliber gun, a cartridge and ammunition. Police also found a a note, which Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said detailed remorse and referenced issues he was having at the assisted-living facility.

“The note apologized for the mess he made,” Lacey told Target 12.

A second warrant — issued to search the suspected killer’s car, a 2007 Saab 93 Aero — showed police swabbed what they suspected to be a blood stain from the front-passenger seat.

“It could have been there for eons,” Lacey said about the blood stain. “There is no indication anything happened in the vehicle. … We know he didn’t go from the shooting then back to his vehicle.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Giachello’s call to Cox two days before the shooting triggered any type of contact with law enforcement, but spokesperson Jeffrey Lavery told Target 12 the company is now working with police.

“We are fully cooperating with law enforcement during this active investigation,” Lavery said in a prepared statement.

Lacey said he didn’t think Cox called police ahead of the shooting, but said the employee who fielded the call could have easily misconstrued Giachello’s intentions.

The employee “could have thought he had a week to live and was trying to put his affairs in order,” Lacey said.

In a sworn affidavit, police also detailed the gruesome scene found when law enforcement arrived the morning of the shooting. The responding officers entered the building to find three victims in the front part of the facility, including 46-year-old Julie Lynn Cardinal, who was pronounced dead on the scene “by gunshot wounds.”

Police also found the other two victims, 66-year-old Donna Thorney and 35-year-old Robin Moss, in the same area.

“Ms. Moss was shot and located on the floor in the main office. Ms. Thornley was observed seated in the lobby with a gunshot wound,” R.I. State Police Det. Kyle Draper wrote in the affidavit.

Thornley was taken to Rhode Island Hospital where she was treated and released. Moss, meanwhile, spent several days in the intensive care unit in critical condition. She has since been moved out of intensive care and is in stable condition, according to her husband.

After determining Giachello was the suspected killer, police found him in his apartment from a suspected self-inflicted gun shot wound, according to the affidavit.

“Members of the Rhode Island Police observed a dark colored revolver in the close vicinity of the deceased male,” Draper wrote. “The round appeared consistent with the discarded round and casings located on the first floor in the vicinity of the crime scene.”

Giachello obtained the .38-caliber revolver two days before the attack from Hope Valley Bait & Tackle in Wyoming, R.I., according to Westerly Police.

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

Moss, a Babcock employee, also notified him that his rent would be adjusted as a result of the violation. On Dec. 12, Cardinal – who also worked at the housing facility – sent Giachello a follow-up notice.

Giachello bought the .38 caliber revolver despite having a various issues with mental health, which are supposed to disqualify an adult from purchasing a hand gun in Rhode Island. Top lawmakers have indicated they plan to review the state’s gun laws this year, partly due to the Westerly incident.

Giachello was admitted to Butler Hospital in 2002 after he threatened to buy a gun to kill his then-wife and himself, according to a divorce filing obtained by Target 12 in December.

Westerly police and state police continue to investigate the shooting. In the letter, Giachello asked his daughters be notified. Lacey said officials have contacted his family.

“It’s still being investigated,” Lacey said. “We are trying to put some pieces together.”

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

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

Caroline Goggin contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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