Saturday, March 10, 2012

Granite City, IL: Granite City man shot wife, then killed himself

GRANITE CITY • A woman who sought an order of protection last month against her husband was shot by him early Thursday in Granite City shortly before he fatally shot himself, authorities say.
The husband, Troy E. Howell, 62, died at a hospital about four hours after the 1 a.m. shooting.
His wife, Patricia Howell, 50, survived. As paramedics called to the scene stood back and waited for the gunman to be caught, a police officer helped get a stretcher and carry the bleeding woman from the street, Police Chief Rich Miller said.
Both the woman and her husband were rushed to a St. Louis hospital for treatment. Troy Howell was pronounced dead at about 5:15 a.m. The woman's condition was unavailable, although police said she was stable and that her injuries were not life-threatening.
The incident began just before 1 a.m. Thursday in the 2500 block of Jerden Avenue. On Wednesday, Troy Howell had been served a summons from the Madison County sheriff's office to appear in court next week on his wife's petition for an order of protection.
Patricia Howell filed for an order of protection against her husband on Feb. 28 in Madison County Circuit Court.
"I left because he threatened to kill me and himself," Patricia Howell wrote in her court petition, alleging physical abuse. "My children told me I should leave and seek help to protect myself."
An order of protection is issued by a judge to protect someone from another person accused of domestic violence, sexual abuse or stalking. The case was scheduled for its first hearing next Thursday morning.
Patrica Howell is the one who called 911 early Thursday after being shot. She told dispatchers that she was lying in the road in front of 2512 Jerden, the couple's home. She said she was shot on the right side and didn't know what kind of gun it was or where her husband went. She told dispatchers she felt like she wanted to go to sleep.
Police found the woman in the street. She had been shot at least twice.
Troy Howell ran back into the home on Jerden. A short time later, police went into the home and found him inside. He had shot himself and was critically injured, Major Jeff Connor of the Granite City Police Department said.
Police characterized the incident as a domestic situation. The couple's 24-year-old son was also apparently in the house, police said.
At the scene early Thursday, Granite City Police Officer Joe Nicolussi was with the bleeding woman in the middle of the street and the shooter was still unaccounted for, according to a radio conversation between dispatchers and Nicolussi. As the officer was waiting for backup, paramedics were standing by, several houses away at the nearest intersection, waiting for the scene to become secure. As a matter of standard procedure, paramedics called to a shooting don't come too close until it is deemed safe by police.
As the backup officer tells Nicolussi he's still on the way, Nicolussi asks the dispatcher if someone could come up the alleyway and watch the back of the home.
"Tell EMS if they don't come down and pick her up, (do you suppose) I could get a gurney and drag her out? She's bleeding," Nicolussi said. "If they don't want to, I'll take her out. She's gotta go."
A paramedic with a stretcher met up with Nicolussi, the police chief said. They carried Patricia Howell to an awaiting ambulance.
Nicolussi's action was part of the "active-shooter" training that the Granite City Police Department has given its officers since the shootings at Columbine High School, said Miller, the police chief.
Miller said the officers make sure they have cover and can deal with any victims, while evaluating where the shooter might be.
"You can't leave her there to die," Miller said.
A neighbor describes Patricia Howell as a "good person."
"I'm just worried sick for the wife, she's like my other daughter, my best friend," said a next-door neighbor, Betty Alfaro.
She said Patricia Howell had moved out of the home a few months ago but would come back to check on her husband.
"She's such a good person, she'd come to help him, make sure he had enough to eat," Alfaro said.

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