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Gunman Dead Day After Killing Officer in Lengthy Standoff

March 22, 1996

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ A gunman who had barricaded himself in his home was found dead early today, a day after he opened fire for 1 1/2 hours from his second-floor window, killing one police officer and wounding another. The gunman’s grandmother was also killed.

Richard Sacchi unleashed a barrage of bullets that terrorized a quiet suburban street and sent residents diving for cover.

Sacchi, 26, who was to have surrendered on stalking charges today, was found dead in the attic of his Westchester County home about 5:30 a.m., said a fire official who spoke on condition of anonymity. He had held dozens of police officers and sharpshooters at bay for about 15 hours.

It was not immediately clear whether Sacchi had committed suicide or was shot by police.

Sacchi’s death was reported about seven hours after his 88-year-old grandmother, Catherine Sacchi, was taken from the home and pronounced dead of gunshot wounds. Police wouldn’t say whether she had been shot by her grandson.

Police said Sacchi opened fire with a rifle from the window without provocation Thursday afternoon, and continued firing for about 90 minutes. He shot the police officers as they drove up to the house in response to a call from a neighbor who heard the gunshots, police said.

The fatally shot officer, 29-year-old Michael Frey, lay for two hours in the rain before police could get to him and take him away in an armored car. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The wounded officer, Richard Morrissey, 45, was grazed in the head and fell bleeding to the ground. The armored vehicle that took away Frey’s body returned minutes later to snatch Morrissey, who was treated at a hospital and released.

More than 200 police officers descended on the scene, taking shelter behind trees, cars and other houses in this town just north of New York City.

Police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances swarmed the area, with officers from surrounding towns flooding the cordoned-off streets. A SWAT team from the New York City Police Department worked the scene through the night.

Police said Sacchi holed up inside the house after the shooting stopped, about 5 p.m. As darkness fell, police set up a loudspeaker to try and talk with him.

Sacchi responded only by blaring heavy metal music at them, said town supervisor Jim Cavanaugh.

Sacchi’s motives were not known. Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro said Sacchi was to have surrendered to New York City authorities on stalking charges today.

Sacchi had a history of minor scuffles with police, said Eastchester Police Chief James Maher.

Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, said Sacchi had pleaded guilty to aggravated harassment on Feb. 23 and was due for sentencing on April 12.

Residents in the quiet neighborhood of single-family homes were stunned by the violence.

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

Another neighbor, her voice trembling, described the scene as ``horrible. I’m shaking. It’s just awful.″ She hung up her phone without giving her name.

Update hourly