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14-Hour Siege Ends; Gunman, Grandmother, Officer and Dog Dead

March 22, 1996

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ A rifleman who terrorized his suburban neighborhood with gunfire and killed a policeman was found dead today of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, ending a 14-hour siege. His grandmother and dog also were killed.

The body of Richard Sacchi was found about dawn in the attic of his Westchester County home after police slipped into the house and conducted a room-to-room search.

Sacchi, 26, who had agreed to surrender today to face stalking charges, unleashed a barrage of bullets Thursday that sent residents diving for cover. He had held dozens of police officers and sharpshooters at bay.

Police Chief Jim Maher said Sacchi had shot himself in the stomach.

Messages were found scribbled on the bedroom walls in pencil, including one that said, ``Jesus, forgive me for my sins,″ according to Westchester Country District Attorney Jeanine Pirro.

Sacchi also left out a black shirt and gray-black suit, beneath the scrawled words: ``clothes for me funiral.″ Another message said, ``You were the best dad in the world.″

Maher said police believed that Sacchi also killed his grandmother, Catherine Sacchi, in her 80s, who was taken from the home late Thursday and pronounced dead at a hospital of a gunshot wound.

The woman ``probably went upstairs to confront him,″ Maher said. ``It looks like he shot through the door.″

His dog, a terrier, was also found shot to death, apparently by Sacchi.

Beside Sacchi’s body was a shotgun and a rifle. In all, six rifles and shotguns were found in the home along with what Maher called ``quite a cache of ammunition.″

Pirro said Sacchi made his own bullets and owned a crossbow.

The siege outside Sacchi’s home started Thursday afternoon when Sacchi began firing out a window. Some residents on the block were evacuated overnight. During the siege in the New York City suburb, one woman was pinned down for hours by gunfire.

Killed by the hail of bullets was Officer Michael Frey, 29, of Eastchester who was shot in the chest and in both arms. Frey had arrived on the scene answering a call from a man requesting assistance. A second officer was wounded.

Police believe that Sacchi himself made the emergency call for help as a ``planned execution″ or suicide.

Police had to bring in an armored personnel carrier to evacuate the wounded officers, then called in New York City Police, who are more seasoned in handling such crimes, Maher said.

Hostage negotiators also were brought in when it was feared that Sacchi was holding hostages. Attempts made to negotiate with him through a loudspeaker were answered only by bursts of loud rock music.

Sacchi’s motives for the shootings weren’t entirely clear.

But newspaper reports suggested he may have been reacting to being convicted of aggravated harassment, apparently for stalking his estranged wife and showing up at her apartment with a shotgun in December.

Pirro said that there was an arrest warrant out for Sacchi on charges of stalking his estranged wife. She said he had also been expected to surrender to New York City authorities today.

She said he also had spent time at a home for troubled youths where he was accused of menacing other youths with knives. ``He was a troubled youth with a history of violence,″ Pirro said.

Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney, said Sacchi had pleaded guilty to aggravated harassment on Feb. 23 and was due for sentencing on April 12.

Residents in a quiet, middle-class suburban neighborhood with tree-lined streets and picket fences were stunned by the violence.

``I’ve lived here for 35 years,″ neighbor Rita Blanco said. ``This is a quiet town. It’s strange, it’s weird that this is happening.″

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