Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Former Connecticut State Trooper Shoots and Kills Wife, Shoots her Attorney, and then tries to kill himself near a Connecticut Court House

Connecticut State Police spokesman Sgt. J. Paul Vance
Posted by Hello
talks with reporters near where a man shot his ex-wife to death, critically wounded her lawyer and then shot himself in the parking area behind the Superior Court building in Middletown.(AP/Bob Child)June 15, 2005

Fatal Shooting At Courthouse
5:51 PM EDT,June 15, 2005
STAFF and Wire Reports, The Hartford Courant

MIDDLETOWN -- A former state trooper fatally shot his ex-wife, critically wounded her lawyer and then shot himself on a parking deck outside a courthouse where they were scheduled to appear this morning, law enforcement officials said.

State police Sgt. J. Paul Vance identified the shooter as Michael L. Bochicchio, Jr. , 47, of Torrington, a retired state trooper.

Vance confirmed that Bochicchio's ex-wife, Donna Bochicchio, 43, of Harwinton, was dead at the scene. Donna Bochicchio's lawyer Julie Porzio, 42, of Waterbury, is listed in serious condition at Hartford Hospital.

Michael L. Bochicchio, Jr is listed in extremely critical condition at Hartford Hospital suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"He was a wonderful person, a state cop for all those years. I don't know what went through his mind," said his uncle, Anthony Bochicchio Sr.

"He was going through a bad divorce. He just snapped."

According to court records, Michael Bochicchio filed for divorce in 2003 and had been fighting over money and the custody of their two children. A court order dated today grants custody of the 12-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy to Donna Bochicchio's family.

The investigation into the shooting continues. Vance said police hope to finish at the scene by 7 p.m. Middletown Police are being assisted by state police, Vance said.

According to Vance, the shooting occurred as the two women were parking their car at about 9:34 a.m. on the upper deck of the parking garage adjacent to the courthouse. Police said all three were scheduled in court today for a non-criminal court case.

Paul Tofil of East Hartford was working at an auto shop just below the parking deck. There were initially about eight gunshots, then a pause, and then another shot, he said.

Tofil said he thought someone was shooting off fireworks or trying to scare pigeons, but a man yelled down at them to call the police.

"This happened 30 yards away," he said.

"It freaked me out. I couldn't believe it."

Vance said the shooter arrived in a separate vehicle. Investigators recovered a handgun from the scene. Police are still determining how many shots were fired and the trajectory of the bullets. Investigators also are checking surveillance cameras in the area for evidence, but Vance would not say whether any images of the crime were available.

Public Safety Commissioner Len Boyle said Bochicchio was a retired state trooper. He also served as a contract federal court security officer, U.S. Marshal John Bardelli said.

Porzio is the wife of former Waterbury Mayor Joseph Santopietro. Family members and colleagues would not comment on her injuries or the incident.

The court was placed on "partial lockdown," immediately after the shooting, court spokeswoman Rhonda Stearley-Hebert said, meaning people were allowed into the courthouse but police kept them inside.

The court had resumed normal operations this afternoon, Stearley-Hebert said.Twenty years ago, a fatal domestic shooting inside a Connecticut courtroom led to tighter security measures, including metal detectors, at all state courthouses.

Kenneth Spargo shot and killed his wife, Priscilla, during their divorce proceedings in May 1984 in Norwich Superior Court. Spargo walked up to his wife while she sat on a bench in the front of the courtroom and fired several times.

At the time of that shooting, the Norwich courthouse was the second newest in the state and was one of just three equipped with a built-in metal detector. The detector, however, could be easily bypassed by anyone using an exit door in an adjacent foyer. It also was determined that a back door had been left unlocked and unmonitored for about an hour.

Hartford Courant reporters Lauren Phillips and Gregory Seay, and, Associated Press writers Cara Rubinsky, Matt Apuzzo and Donna Tommelleo contributed to this report.

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