Details of shooting emerging

Posted: Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Nearly one week after gun violence erupted in Soldotna's Central Peninsula Hospital, rumors about the tragedy are rampant in the community, and hospital workers are puzzling over questions about why one of their former co-workers shot his former supervisors, one fatally.

Photo By Dante Petri
Photo By Dante Petri
Members of the Central Peninsula Hospital community seek solace from each other in the halls of the building Monday morning. A blessing ceremony was conducted by the CPH Spiritual Care unit in the areas of the building impacted by the shootout that occurred there last Wednesday. The ceremony started at the entrance of the building's older wing in the River Pavilion and moved through the corridors, exiting out its newer main entrance in the Mountain Tower. The halls were packed with more than 50 people, reciting prayers and offering their thoughts.

Hospital Information Services Director Mike Webb, 55, was killed and Imaging Director Margaret Stroup, 57, was shot several times and is recovering in an Anchorage hospital where her condition improved to serious from critical over the weekend.

The gunman, Joseph Marchetti, 48, was shot and killed following a standoff with Soldotna Police and Alaska State Troopers in the hospital parking lot after the shooting spree.

Soldotna Police Chief John Lucking Jr. on Monday said he has asked troopers to assist with the investigation and prefers to not release specific details about the case at this time, but in an effort to dispel some of the rumors, information from Lucking, coupled with previously released facts provide a general sketch of what happened that morning.

Marchetti, who had been fired from his job as a picture archiving and communication systems administrator the day before, returned to the hospital just before 10 a.m., parking in the employee parking lot near the northeast corner of the hospital grounds.

He then entered in the old section of the hospital near the former location of the gift shop, which now served as Webb's office.

Armed with a mini-14, .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle and a 9 mm pistol, Marchetti went directly to Webb's office and shot Webb once in the neck.

Apparently thinking he had killed Webb, Marchetti then proceeded to the Imaging Department in search of Stroup.

Webb, however, ran out of the building and headed west toward the new main entrance where he came back in and pulled the hospital fire alarm, saying, "Joseph shot me."

Webb headed down the hall toward the Emergency Department, but collapsed partway down the hall. Some nurses found him on the floor and helped him into a wheelchair.

At the time, Marchetti made it to Stroup's office, shooting her multiple times in the stomach, then headed back into the hospital's main corridor spraying the hallways and administration offices with bullets from his rifle and pistol. Marchetti had at least two 20-round magazines for the rifle.

Frustrated at not being able to get into locked administrators' offices, Marchetti reportedly let out a high-pitched scream before heading toward the hospital's main entrance.

At one point he encountered hospital Chief Finance Officer Jason Paret, pointing his rifle at Paret.

The rifle jammed and Paret turned to flee, running a zigzag pattern down the hallway, yelling to other staff members that a gunman was on the loose. Paret was not shot.

Marchetti then came upon Webb, and finding he was still alive, shot him again, this time in the stomach.

Marchetti then exited the hospital through the main entrance where he found himself surrounded by Soldotna Police and troopers, who were arriving in response to a 911 dispatch.

Once outside, police tried talking Marchetti into putting down the weapon.

After a few minutes, he kneeled down in the parking lot, placing the rifle on the ground, and began pacing back and forth, moving closer to Marydale Avenue.

As he was temporarily distracted, Soldotna senior officer Johnny Whitehead asked for cover and retrieved the rifle, disarming it and securing it away from Marchetti's view.

Police found a magazine with a few rounds in it and one live round on the ground near the main entrance. The second magazine had been inserted into the rifle.

In the parking lot, Marchetti continued pacing back and forth telling officers to "Just shoot me," and asking, "What do I have to do?"

Marchetti, with both hands on the pistol, shoved it into his own chest, possibly trying to take his own life, according to Lucking. It is unknown at this time whether Marchetti may in fact have pulled the trigger. That will not be determined until after a medical examiner investigation is complete.

The incident came to an end when three troopers shot at Marchetti, Lucking said.

Whitehead then called in emergency medics who had been standing by. Marchetti was placed on a gurney and rushed to the Emergency Department where he died.

"There were a number of heroic acts out there," Lucking said Monday. "What Officer Whitehead did to get that rifle was heroic.

"What those three troopers did to insure the public's safety was equally as heroic," he said.

Lucking said he hopes to have Whitehead and Soldotna Police Sgt. Robb Quelland, Officer Tony Garcia and Officer Victor Dillon recognized by the city at the Dec. 10 Soldotna City Council meeting.

Lucking also said following the incident, Marchetti's landlord provided authorities with a suicide note found in Marchetti's apartment.

"I didn't see the note, but it reflected Marchetti's remorse for his actions and asked that his parents be told he is very sorry," Lucking said.

Troopers were not releasing any information, pending the completion of their investigation.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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