Hospital shooter just couldn’t do enough work to satisfy his new boss www.privateofficer.com
NEW BRITAIN CT Feb 25 2012
Victor Valcarcel Sr. just couldn’t do enough work to satisfy his new boss, he told police after a hospital shooting on Wednesday that left the boss and another supervisor seriously wounded.
Valcarcel told police the boss fired him — an assertion the hospital disputes — for refusing to do an extra job, so the maintenance worker went home, got a pistol out of his attic, returned to the Hospital for Special Care and shot Robert Barucci and Lynn Trask, he told investigators, according to a police report.
The hospital has concluded that its emergency protocols were followed properly. It put on extra security staffing after the shooting but hasn’t discussed any wide-ranging changes in security procedures.
At one point in his interview with police, Valcarcel said: “I was so mad at both of them that I wanted to kill them both.”
Valcarcel finished his statement by saying, “I am really sad that I shot those two people and I did it because I was so angry at them.”
Trask and Barucci remained atSt. Francis Hospital and Medical Centerin Hartford on Thursday, evening, both still in serious condition. But Barucci apparently was able to speak at midday, according to John Votto, president of the Hospital for Special Care on Corbin Avenue.
The two are both supervisors, said Lynn Ricci, senior vice president of administration at the hospital. Trask, 65, of Bristol, is a per-diem supervisor in the facilities unit; he has been there since May of 2009. Barucci, 53, of Southington, is a staff supervisor and has been at the hospital since July 2010.
Friends and colleagues on Thursday said they found it hard to understand why anyone would harm either person, describing both as kind and helpful.
“My whole family feels this way. We don’t understand,” Nicole Sample, a neighbor of Trask’s on Fall Mountain Road in Bristol. “What we think is, he was forced to fire the guy and [Valcarcel] didn’t like what he had to say.” said.
Sample said she grew up across the street from Trask’s home and spent a lot of time there as a close friend of his granddaughter, Jessica Trask.
Trask is a friendly and hard-working man, she said. “If you needed your driveway snow-blown, he was the guy to do it,” Sample said.
Erik Allison, a manager at the Record-Journal of Meriden, said he supervised Barucci for roughly about five years before he was laid off in 2009 when the newspaper outsourced its printing operation to Springfield. Barucci worked as a printer for Bullseye Marketing, formerly based in the Meriden newsroom, for about 17 years, Allison said.
“It’s religion and family with him,” said Allison, who said that Barucci is a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “He would never cause anybody harm. Obviously, as a manager you have to do what you have to do. But it’s hard to hear about this level of retaliation.”
Valcarcel, who is 64, was in custody, with bail set at $1.5 million, on $1.5 million bail after his arraignment Thursday afternoon in at Superior Court in New Britain. He faces two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of criminal intent to commit murder.
Prosecutor John Malone said that one of the victims remained in critical condition — he didn’t say which one — and that “his outcome is not at all certain.”
“By the grace of God, it’s not a fatality — at least not yet,” he said.
Valcarcel was born in Puerto Rico and has lived in Connecticut for 20 years, Bail Commissioner Ron Manzione said. He worked at the hospital for seven years and lived at 37 Helen Drive in New Britain — about a mile and a half from the hospital — for 12 years.
Public defender David Cosgrove cited Valcarcel’s lack of a criminal record as a reason to lower his bail to $200,000. But Judge Hillary Strackbein set his bail much higher, saying that Valcarcel had a chance to change his mind about his actions on Wednesday night.
“The defendant had a chance to think over what he planned to do,” the judge said. But instead of deciding against violence, he carried on, she said, “by going home, going back and shooting two people.”
Outside of court, Valcarcel’s son, Victor Valcarcel Jr., said that his father was under a lot of pressure: He doesn’t have much money, he cares for his ailing wife and he has health issues of his own. On top of that, he was assigned extra tasks at work, the younger Valcarcel said
“He’s going blind from diabetes, his kidneys are bad. He has no money,” the son said. “This could just make anybody go to the breaking point.”
When he saw his father after the shooting, “He wasn’t the dad that I know. He wasn’t himself. He was upset. He was shaking.”
The older Valcarcel told police that his job in the hospital’s housekeeping department was to clean up the trash throughout the building. In addition, he had assigned areas that he was supposed to clean every day. He worked from 3 to 11 p.m. in his nonunion job.
According to the police report, Valcarcel told investigators that Trask started working at the hospital about a year ago. Trask would clean the carpets and do other tasks, he told police.
A few months after Trask started working, Barucci began work as a supervisor for building services, Valcarcel said. As soon as Barucci started, “He started to push everybody,” Valcarcel told police.
“Bob would just give people more and more work, and when I would do the work that Bob would give me, he had more work for me to do,” the report quotes Valcarcel as saying. “Bob would also wait for me to sign into work and he would tell me, ‘Victor, you forgot to do this and Victor you forgot to clean that.’”
Barucci also left Valcarcel yellow Post-it notes to remind him of tasks he still had to complete, Valcarcel told police.
He also told investigators that Barucci had already fired two people in the past year or so, “an African American guy and a Puerto Rican guy,” the report states. “The black guy got fired because he was hanging out in the parking lot a lot and he wasn’t suppose to be out there. Bob was behind the Puerto Rican guy a lot like he was looking to fire him, so he did.”
On Wednesday, Valcarcel told police, Barucci and Trask were there when he signed in to work about 3:30 p.m. He saw a note from Barucci telling him to clean a housekeeping closet, and he told Barucci he didn’t have time.
Barucci told him, “You gotta do it,” but Valcarcel said he wasn’t going to because he had too much to do, the report states.
Later, Barucci paged Valcarcel to come to his office and once again told him to do the work, but Valcarcel responded, “I can’t, man, I’m packed,” the report says. “Bob then told me he had to let me go, and he told me to go home.”
Valcarcel said he left about 5:30 p.m., angry at both supervisors.
He told police that they are “both the same type of person. Every time Lynn sees you do something, he calls Bob. I was so mad at both of them that I wanted to kill them both,” the report states.
Valcarcel told police that he drove home, got a pistol from under an attic floor board and put it and the magazine in his jacket pocket. He said he found the gun about six years ago while working in the attic and kept it for protection.
Still wearing his maintenance uniform, he drove back to the hospital and walked downstairs to Barucci’s basement office, he said. He heard Barucci talking to Trask, which made him even angrier, the report states. He said the two were “talking and talking and all the other people are running around like crazy working.”
Valcarcel pulled out the gun, loaded it and walked into the office. He said he shot four times.
“I think I shot Lynn once then Bob once, then Lynn one more time and then Bob …” he told investigators.
Trask suffered from gunshot wounds to the abdomen and shoulder, and Barucci had gunshot wounds to the shoulder and femur, the big large bone in the thigh, police said.
Valcarcel drove home, called his son and told him he shot two people at work, the report states. He said that he took his insulin, ate dinner and watched TV with his wife, and that his wife later left with his daughter, and his son arrived.
His son called the police, who took Victor Valcarcel Sr. into custody.
Meanwhile, a chaotic scene had unfolded at the hospital. Police swarmed the building; they didn’t know if the shooter was still inside or if there were more victims.
A staff member called police at 5:53 p.m. and said that someone had been shot inside the hospital. Subsequent 911 calls indicated that one more person had been shot.
In one of the first 911 calls, a hospital operator said that someone had been shot in the lower-level carpentry shop. Several more calls indicated that two people were shot — one in the neck and one in the back — and that employees were providing care. As callers urgently requested police and medics, the 911 operator tried to determine the shooter’s location.
“Where’s the person with the gun?” he asked repeatedly.
“We can’t locate the person with the gun,” the caller replied.
No one seemed to know the shooter’s location, but one caller heard the suspect’s name and gave it to the operator.
“One of the victims said it was Victor; he was a housekeeping guy here,” the caller said. “I’m trying to find somebody who’s seen him.”
Callers expressed concern about the condition of the victims — one of whom was not conscious — and for their own safety.
“We have no police, either. We’re scared for our safety … if they come back, we’re in danger,” one caller said.
Arriving police immediately began searching for the suspect and the victims. Dozens of other police were brought in from surrounding towns to help search the hospital.
The shooting occurred in the basement maintenance area of the three-story hospital, away from patients, police said.
It’s unclear whether people in most of the building even knew about the shootings until police arrived. The hospital was locked down, and friends and relatives of employees stood outside on Corbin Avenue — sometimes for hours — waiting to get more information.
Police said that a pistol they seized at Valcarcel’s house Wednesday night may might have been the one used in the shooting, but that they will wait for ballistics tests to determine that for sure.
Police had wrapped up their search of Valcarcel’s home by late afternoon Thursday. His red Kia SUV was still in the driveway.
Angel Delgado, a neighbor, described Valcarcel as quiet and gentlemanly. “I was surprised. It’s something I never thought he would do because he’s a real mellow guy,” Delgado said.
John J. Votto, president and CEO of the Hospital for Special Care the hospital’s president and CEO, said that additional security was being provided to reassure patients and employees that they were safe. Grief counselors were also made available to all hospital employees and their families.