Former State Trooper Shoots Ex-Wife and Lawyer Outside of Courthouse in Connecticut
June 16, 2005
The Associated Press
A former Connecticut state trooper killed his estranged wife, wounded her divorce lawyer and then fatally shot himself outside a courthouse where they were scheduled for a hearing Wednesday morning, police said.
Retired trooper Michael Bochicchio Jr., 47, died at Hartford Hospital on Wednesday night, a hospital spokeswoman said. His 43-year-old wife, Donna Bochicchio, died at the scene.
Julie Porzio, 42, Donna Bochicchio's attorney in what friends said was a heated divorce and custody dispute, was listed in serious but stable condition.
The shooting occurred just after 9:30 a.m. on the top deck of a city-owned garage behind the courthouse and overlooking Middletown, Conn.'s police department. Paul Tofil of East Hartford, Conn., 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."
Michael Bochicchio comes from a large family of police officers and troopers, friends said. He retired from the state police in 1998 after a 21-year career. He also worked for a private company providing security at federal courthouses, U.S. Marshal John Bardelli said.
"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. He and his wife had been fighting over money and the custody of their children, a 12-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy. The couple had been married almost 17 years.
Michael Bochicchio moved to Torrington, Conn., after a judge ordered him out of the Harwinton, Conn., home last year, describing Bochicchio's behavior as "intimidating and harassing" with an adverse effect on the children, according to court records.
"There have been times where there were heated discussions," said Greg O'Brien, who lived across the street from the Bochicchios in Harwinton. "But I always thought that the fact he was a law enforcement officer for so many years would prevail over any temper."
In court, Donna complained that Michael refused to detail income from gambling at casinos in Connecticut, Atlantic City and Las Vegas. He was ordered to pay child support and the mortgages on the couple's home and a Florida condominium.
Each accused the other of being a bad parent, O'Brien said.
"It was nasty, a lot of he-said, she-said stuff," he said.
A court order dated Wednesday granted custody of the children to Donna Bochicchio's family.
"He had a beautiful family. You know how people say you wouldn't have expected it? Well, I really wouldn't have expected it," said Marie M. Knudsen, first selectman in Harwinton, where Bochicchio was once a member of the Republican committee and the Board of Assessment Appeals.
Porzio, the wife of former Waterbury, Conn., Mayor Joseph Santopietro, was upgraded from critical to serious condition Wednesday afternoon. She suffered wounds to her face and left arm, said Waterbury Police Chief Neil O'Leary, a family friend.
The courthouse was placed on "partial lockdown" immediately after the shooting. People were allowed into the building, but nobody was allowed to leave. The court resumed normal operations by Wednesday afternoon.
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, Conn., 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.