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Neighbors recount shooting: 'Holy smokes, there's something going on there'

Posted: Friday, November 28, 2008

John Roderick, a resident on Marydale Ave., who lives almost directly across the street from the entrance of Central Peninsula Hospital, has hunted his whole life. When he heard a loud bang Wednesday morning, he almost immediately recognized the noise as gunfire.

CPH sits adjacent to several Soldotna neighborhoods. During the shooting, a few residents found their homes in uncomfortably close proximity the violent outbreak.

On Wednesday afternoon Roderick paced his tidily kept garage recalling the morning's events. Other than to occasionally point out locations across the street, Roderick kept his hands in his pockets, admitting that they were still trembling several hours later. Nonetheless, his demeanor remained calm and collected as he told his story.

Roderick said he was heading out to the garage to get on his treadmill when he heard a bang.

"Your first thought is, 'Was it a backfire or a shot?' You know, I hunt a lot, and I go, 'You know, it really sounded like a shot,'" he said.

Roderick said the first shot was followed by several more, prompting him to step outside. Several police cars came down the street, and to his surprise, they pulled into the CPH parking lot.

"They just pulled in right there," He said, motioning across the street, " I walked out a little bit and I go, 'Holy smokes, there's something going on there.'"

Realizing a situation was about to unfold, Roderick went in and grabbed a video camera. After several minutes of struggling with a dead battery, he was able to pug it into a wall and began filming.

"You never know. It's always good to record what's happening," he said.

Roderick said he filmed gunman Joseph Marchetti pacing back and forth along a fence line bordering the hospital property as police tried to coax him into dropping his weapons.

"They were just continuously telling him to put the guns down and to give up," he said.

Roderick slowed in his recounting, as he spoke of a point in which Marchetti nearly took his own life.

"He sat down over there and he, looked like he put the rifle," Roderick paused, and using his hand to simulate the shape of a gun, he placed it under his chin, then continued saying, "to his head area like he was going to shoot himself."

He also said that Marchetti called to the police several times, saying to go ahead and shoot him.

Roderick knew the final outcome of the event was going to be tragic. He recalled an event in Anchorage, what he believed to have been 15 to 20 years ago, when a man had taken a child hostage and placed the child in danger with a weapon. Roderick recalled in that event the shooter was killed after he endangered the life of another.

"I remembered that, and this looked like it was the same thing happening," Roderick said. "He was just trying to commit suicide is what my thoughts were."

When Marchetti tried to leave the hospital grounds, Roderick said the police became a bit more excited and ordered him not to walk away. He said Marchetti stopped several times, and the police continued to speak with him.

"Then he just turned abruptly and started walking," Roderick said, turning and pacing out five steps across the garage. He lowered his voice a bit, and continued, "And they shot him."

Roderick said he was impressed by the professionalism of the troopers.

"I was really surprised. In the TV shows that I've seen on the cop shows, you watch them, a lot of the law enforcement people, they seem like they get real excited and overreact. I think those are the ones that make the TV because they're so one-sided," he said, "but they showed so much restraint with what they were doing."

Roderick said the troopers later approached him and asked for the video he recorded. He said he gladly passed that over to help in the investigation.

Roderick said he later used a rangefinder and determined that the entire incident occurred 125 yards from his door. Though he may have been the closest home to the tragedy, he wasn't too concerned about the general safety of the neighborhood.

"It's like a lightning strike, or something like that," he said. "There's not any reason to leave town because something like that happens."

Josh Riley lives a few blocks away from Roderick on Lupine Street. He was home as well during the incident, but didn't learn what had happened until an hour and a half later.

Riley said the event was certainly out of place for the quiet neighborhood.

"Definitely, you don't see that kind of stuff around here that often, at all really, for that matter. It's pretty shocking," he said.

Riley echoed Roderick's feeling that the neighborhood was still a safe place to live, but said events like Wednesday's seem to be more common.

"It's getting more and more acceptable, I guess you'd say, in society for people to do that type of thing. I think it happens more and more everyday everywhere, not just here," Riley said.

Rhonda Ferrell, who also lives on Lupine, said she was out shopping while the shootout took place. Her father, who lives in Sterling, picked up on the incident listening to his police scanner, and called her to find out if she was home.

Ferrell said she stayed in town and continued to take care of errands until it was safe for her to return.

"I just tried to do as much as I could outside of the house," she said.

Ferrell said she expected the situation would be resolved quickly, though she didn't make it back to her home until 2 p.m.

Ferrell also said that the incident wasn't necessarily a reason to raise concern about the safety of the neighborhood.

"Well I figure, you can't really do anything about it. You never know what somebody is thinking that's right next to you," she said.

Dante Petri can be reached at dante.petri@peninsulaclarion.com.



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