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NY- Fired sex offender shoots 3, kills self

Posted in Related Deaths
9-27-2005 New York:

New Windsor – Victor Piazza, 55, walked calmly into the offices of Verla International during lunch hour and shot three company officials in the head, witnesses told New Windsor police. Piazza then put the .38-caliber revolver to his own head and killed himself, police said.

All three of his targets – Verla International owners Mario Maffei, 57, and Robert Roth, 65, and office manager JoAnne O'Brien, 48 – survived the shooting but remained hospitalized last night.

Maffei staggered downstairs to the lobby seconds after being shot about 12:30 p.m.

He yelled to employees that he was hit and for someone to call police.

Then he pushed through the building's doors and collapsed into the parking lot.

"He wasn't moving," said Dennis Wayne Pennenga, a motorist who stopped at the factory as the first ambulance arrived. "I said, 'Where are you shot?' and he said, 'In the back of the head.'

"He just wanted me to hold his hand," Pennenga said.

Within minutes of the shooting, several ambulances and more than 20 police cruisers sped down two-lane Temple Hill Road to the small factory and warehouse.

Helmeted SWAT team officers arrived, toting automatic rifles and riot shields.

A state police helicopter, soon joined by a medivac chopper, thundered overhead. Hundreds of employees, many of them Spanish-speaking and unaware of the drama inside their factory, streamed outside, fearing a fire or chemical spill.

Shipping and receiving clerk Jodie Dichiara was in the parking lot, just finishing her lunch break, when women from the office ran out the front door, screaming for help.

One of them was customer service representative Laura Montgomery. She flagged down a passing ambulance; within seconds, police arrived. Colleagues helped Maffei and Roth into ambulances. They rolled O'Brien, still in her office chair, out of the building.

Police believe Piazza parked his GMC Envoy outside the Verla office doors and entered O'Brien's office first. Witnesses say he shot her, then left, closing her door behind him before heading upstairs, first to Roth's office and then to Maffei's. Piazza's body was found on the second floor.

Word spread quickly that Piazza, the factory's former quality control manager, was behind the shootings.

Employees said Piazza was fired in February 2004 after technicians found child pornography on his work computer. Verla officials referred the matter to New Windsor police.

In May 2004, Piazza pleaded guilty to a felony charge of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child and received 10 years' probation. He was classified as a Level 2 sex offender, meaning he was judged at moderate risk to repeat his crime.

Roger Henry, a forklift operator at Verla, said co-workers were afraid of Piazza.

"The first couple of weeks (after he was fired), people were like, 'Lock the doors,'" Henry said.

Dichiara shook her head in disbelief over the shootings.

"I can't believe he had the nerve to do this," she said, her eyes welling with tears. "After all this time? Why?"

The front-office staff said they didn't see Piazza arrive yesterday. The doors had been kept locked for a time after he was fired, they said.

An hour after the shooting, huddled together outside Schlesinger's Steak House next door, workers swapped cigarettes, cell phones and cups of water, trying to process the day's events.

"I never thought I'd be a part of something like this," said accountant Diane Remicci, trying to calm her shaking hand enough to dial a cell phone. "I'm at work right now," she said, leaving a voice mail message. "There was a shooting. I just want you to know if you hear anything. … I'm OK." ..more.. by John Doherty and Alexa James


NY- Ex-Employee Kills Himself After Shooting 3 in Factory

9-27-2005 New York:

A man who lost his job at a nail polish factory in the Hudson Valley last year after child pornography was found on his office computer returned yesterday and hunted down and shot two owners as well as an office manager before fatally shooting himself, the police said.

The violence badly shook employees of the factory, Verla International, and residents of the hamlet, New Windsor, N.Y. Many said they searched their memories of the man the police identified as the gunman, Victor M. Piazza of Warwick, N.Y., to try to understand his outburst.

The three victims, who were all shot in the head, remained hospitalized last night.

The office manager, JoAnne Obrien, 48, of Monroe, N.Y., was in grave condition at St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh, a spokeswoman for the hospital said. She was declared brain dead, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

Ms. Obrien, who is also the factory receptionist, was the first employee that Mr. Piazza encountered when he walked through the doors about 12:25 p.m. yesterday, the police said. He fired one round from his .38-caliber revolver into her head before continuing inside, said Chief Michael C. Bisotti of the New Windsor Police Department.

He then found and shot Robert Roth of Wallkill, N.Y., one of the owners, twice in the head, before continuing upstairs, where he also shot Mario Maffei, 57, of Greenwich, Conn., in the head, Chief Bisotti said.

Mr. Piazza then walked into an office, sat at a desk and fired a shot into his own head, Chief Bisotti said.

Although critically wounded, Mr. Roth, 65, was able to stagger from the building and was found by officers slumped near a grassy hill in the company parking lot. Last night, he was transferred from St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, where he was listed in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The shooting caused bedlam in the factory, a squat, tan brick building, and in the surrounding area.

"People were running, yelling, the police were trying to control the situation," said Bob Spreer, who works in a tobacco shop next to the factory. "It was chaos for a while."

Mr. Spreer said he had played golf on occasion with Mr. Roth, whom he described as a "true gentleman, a really wonderful guy."

"It's awful that someone would want to do this to him or anyone," he added.

Neighbors of Ms. Obrien described her and her boyfriend as a generous couple who never accepted payment for kindnesses like plowing snow in the mountaintop development.

An avid gardener, Ms. Obrien, who has a son in college, is also devoted to her small dogs, they said, and enjoyed periodic visits of a black bear to her backyard, despite the fact that it frightened the dogs. "Joanne liked having it in the backyard," said a neighbor, Ron Sommer, 43.

Last night, officials said they were investigating whether Mr. Piazza's dismissal in 2004 touched off the rampage. Chief Bisotti said that Mr. Piazza, a quality-control manager, had been involved in a dispute with another worker at the plant and that a short while later, company officials discovered child pornography on Mr. Piazza's computer, fired him and referred the case to the police.

In July, Mr. Piazza pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. He was sentenced to 10 years' probation and was classified as a sex offender. Chief Bisotti said there had been no complaints filed against Mr. Piazza since 2004.

The child pornography case was not Mr. Piazza's first brush with the law, the Orange County district attorney, Francis D. Phillips, said yesterday. In 1984, Mr. Piazza was arrested on a charge of unlawfully dealing with a child, he said, although the facts were unclear.

Grieving friends and neighbors of Mr. Piazza painted a picture of an ordinary man who lived with his widowed father and enjoyed puttering around as a handyman.

Outside the two-story gray house where Mr. Piazza's elderly father sequestered himself yesterday, a neighbor, Juan Santiago, 52, said he thought Mr. Piazza had been framed by someone he had fired. Mr. Santiago, 52, speaking as he stood outside on the gravel driveway in the drizzling rain, said Mr. Piazza had lent him money in the past. "I ask for a favor, he never told me no. He is like a brother to me."

Randy Harris, 56, who lives across the street, said the father and son were well liked and had lived in the neighborhood since at least the mid-1980's. About three years ago, he said, Mr. Piazza's mother died.

Mr. Harris said he had heard of the child pornography case, but never felt that his own children were in any danger around Mr. Piazza.

Mr. Harris said that Mr. Piazza had lent him a ladder when he painted his house and one time had fixed a leak in his bathroom. "I have no idea why he did what he did," Mr. Harris said. "But as far being a neighbor of his, he was a great guy." ..more.. by MICHELLE O'DONNELL and JOHN HOLL




Just hours before upstate sex offender Victor Piazza shot three of his bosses and took his own life, he mailed a rambling letter blaming them for his kiddie-porn conviction and hinting that he would be seeking revenge, police said.

Piazza's eerie two-page letter surfaced yesterday - soon after one of the three targets of his Monday afternoon rampage died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Joanne O'Brien, 48, the office manager of the Verla International nail-polish factory in New Windsor, Orange County, had been put on a respirator and declared brain dead after the attack.

Piazza's two other victims - factory co-owners Robert Roth and Mario Maffei - have been released from the hospital.

In his handwritten letter, mailed Monday morning, Piazza "basically claims his bosses set him up with the child-pornography charge," said New Windsor Police Chief Michael Biasotti.

Piazza, 55, was fired as Verla's quality-control manager in February 2004 after kiddie porn was discovered on his office computer.

He was sentenced to 10 years' probation the following August after confessing to possession of child porn.

In his letter, sent to a worker at a Queens laundermat he owned, Piazza wrote that he feared he was going to be sent to jail that day for violating his probation, Biasotti said.

Piazza had been caught three days earlier with adult porn DVDs and an open bottle of vodka - both barred under the terms of his sentence - during a surprise probation department visit to his Warwick home.

"That is why I decided to do what I've done," he wrote, according to Biasotti.

"It certainly confirms our theory that this was a planned-out homicide-suicide," Biasotti said.

"He wasn't just randomly shooting people in the building. He passed many people to get to the people he intended to kill."

Biasotti scoffed at Piazza's claim that he had been framed, noting that Piazza gave a full confession after his arrest.

O'Brien's family said Piazza had threatened the office manager after he was fired.

"He said, 'I'm coming back for you,' " said O'Brien's son, Christian Schaare.

"She's the strongest woman I know," he said of his mother, a recent breast-cancer survivor.

"She lived more in the last four years than most people do in a lifetime . . . She always told me to never quit, to always keep going." ..Source.. by LORENA MONGELLI and MARSHA KRANES


Experts: No way to see it coming


Probably no one will ever know for sure what drove Victor Piazza to shoot three of his former supervisors and then kill himself at the Verla International factory on Monday.

And maybe there was no way to see it coming.

Barbara Weissman, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker at Monroe-based A Counseling Service, said that type of rage is often born in childhood. Whether the cause is genetic, family, an overly stern teacher or something else, it can leave the person unable to deal with stress or authority figures.

When the rage finally comes out, Weissman said, it often has little to do with the recipient of a person's anger.

"They just represent all the authority figures throughout their lives," Weissman said.

Experts in the field of psychology agree it's normal to feel anger toward co-workers, family members and others. But most of us don't act on those feelings.

Paul Schwartz, a Mount Saint Mary College psychology professor, said when someone angers you — cuts you off in traffic, for example — your initial impulse might be toward violence. But then a more rational part of your brain quickly intervenes and reminds you that you could be punished if you attack that person.

Most people at that point let the anger go, but Schwartz said some people "are more impulse-driven than others."

Joel Neuman, a SUNY New Paltz business professor who studies workplace violence, said that "more often than not, these things happen either in close proximity to an incident or when people perceive, rightly or wrongly, that they've been mistreated."

But while most fired workers who commit acts of violence do so shortly after the firing, psychotherapist Renay Bevins-Pence of Therapy II in New Windsor said people who don't work out their anger never shed those feelings.

"A trigger can come at any time," she said.

For Piazza, that trigger might have been facing a probation violation and possible jail time.

Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillips said based on his long experience in law enforcement, it would not be out of the question for Piazza to have renewed anger and bitterness about his firing months after the fact.

Phillips theorized that Piazza's sex-offender designation, felony conviction and probation terms might have become an increasing annoyance.

"Maybe he was applying for a job and this came back to haunt him," Phillips said. "Maybe he was looking to move from the area, and he knew he had to register (as a sex offender). This could have been a delayed reaction."
..Source.. by Tim Logan and John Doherty

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Clearly this is a case of extreme violence, suicide is one thing, this is awful.