An employee fired a day earlier stormed Soldotna's Central Peninsula General Hospital on Wednesday morning and shot two people, killing one, in a rampage that ended with Alaska State Troopers opening fire and taking down the gunman during a standoff in the hospital parking lot.
Police and hospital officials say Joseph A. Marchetti, 48, targeted his former bosses during the roughly 40-minute fray, apparently shooting his first victim, Mike Webb, once, then, spotting him some minutes later as Webb sat bleeding in a wheelchair, shooting him again. Webb, 55, died in surgery at about noon.
Webb headed information services and jointly supervised Marchetti with director of radiology Margaret Stroup, 57, the other victim, according to hospital officials. Stroup was critically injured in the attack and was being medevaced to Anchorage on Wednesday night, hospital spokeswoman Bonnie Nichols said.
Marchetti, who worked for the hospital for about a year, was fired from his job as a digital imaging technician Tuesday for undisclosed reasons. When he returned Wednesday at about 10 a.m., he had a 9 mm pistol and a .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle, which he used to spray what appeared to be about two dozen rounds into doors, walls and toward fleeing people, Soldotna Police Chief John Lucking said.
"It appears to be that it was a directed attack," Lucking said. "It wasn't that he went in and just randomly started shooting people."
Terri Nettles, executive assistant to the hospital's CEO and board, said she first heard loud banging sounds followed by the fire alarm, which automatically triggered the doors to shut. She looked out into the hallway to see what was going on and saw Webb sitting down the way in the wheelchair, bleeding but conscious.
"I heard him say, 'Joseph shot me,' " she said. "They were getting ready to take Mike down in a wheelchair to the (emergency room). That was the same hall that Joseph was coming up. ... When he saw Mike again, he shot him again."
Back in the administrative office, with the door securely locked, Nettles began running into a back conference room as drywall exploded from gunfire, the holes tracing the gunman's path down the hallway, she said.
Marchetti banged on the door and sent bullets whizzing passed her head, with one round passing through the front door and lodging in the conference room's metal door frame. It had been headed straight toward her, Nettles said.
Hers wasn't the only close call. Hearing the first shot, hospital chief financial officer Jason Paret went around a corner to see what was going on and encountered the gunman, Nichols said. A miraculously timed malfunction on Marchetti's weapon may have saved his life.
"He pulled up on the gun, tried to fire it at me, and it jammed," Paret told KTUU Channel 2. "He started reaming on the chamber, trying to get the shell out, I think, and I started running, and started zigging and zagging down the hallway and I heard some more shots behind me."
Lucking said city police and troopers arriving on the scene confirmed at least one person was shot and called for backup. It was not completely clear why Marchetti decided to walk out the front door of the hospital after his assault on the administrative section, but when he did he found the building quickly being surrounded, Lucking said.
Marchetti fired at a trooper patrol vehicle arriving on scene, and for about 20 minutes, officers tried without success to reason with the pacing shooter. At one point, Marchetti reportedly said, "What do I have to do?" -- apparently asking why officers didn't shoot him, Lucking said.
Toward the end of the standoff, Marchetti appeared to point one of his weapons at his own chest, then began walking away from the scene toward an adjacent neighborhood, Lucking said.
"The risk would have been far too great to have allowed him to move into a setting like that," Lucking said.
Three troopers opened fire on Marchetti, striking him an undisclosed number of times. He was pronounced dead in the hospital's emergency room.
Marchetti worked at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha from October 2001 to October 2007, when he decided to leave the job because he was moving, said Andrea McMaster, a spokeswoman at the facility.
Marchetti did information technology work at the center, helping to maintain databases for the hospital's cardiac service line, she said. No other details about Marchetti's work at the Nebraska Medical Center were immediately available, McMaster said.
According to a Central Peninsula hospital newsletter, Stroup came to Alaska from Virginia, where she worked at a 137-bed facility, in September 2007.
Webb, who began working as the hospital information services director this year, held dual degrees in computer science and mathematics from the University of Texas at Tyler and previously worked for 13 years as the information systems director at the Southern Tennessee Medical Center, the newsletter said.
A father of three children, Webb and his wife, Valerie, were ready for adventure and decided to move to Alaska to find it, according to the newsletter.
Webb's daughter, Christina Webb, said in a phone interview from Soldotna that her family was reeling from the shock of losing her father as other family members were being informed of the death and made plans to get to town.
"We're just consistently praying and we're just consistently keeping the faith and we know that God's going to make something good come out of this," Christina Webb said. "It's a terrible tragedy, but we know that God's going to turn it into something good and all we can do is just be faithful and keep praying, and we just ask for everybody to pray for us."
Word of the shooting flew through Soldotna Wednesday morning. When the shooting began, Soldotna schools were locked down, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough activated its automatic emergency system warning people to avoid the area and stay in their homes.
Surrounding medical facilities in the district like the Cottonwood Health Center locked their doors while the shooter remained at large. Though a fair distance from the hospital, the Cottonwood Center had some of its staff working there and concern for their safety lingered for some time after the gunman was shot because of the ensuing uncertainty, said Debbie Standefer, director of operations.
One of the doctors, an obstetrician, was in the middle of delivering a baby when shots rang out, she said.
"It sounds like everybody from the OB department was sort of collectively scooted back, kind of out of the way, taken out of harm's way," she said. "It took us a while to actually connect with them."
Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said the three troopers who fired their weapons will be placed on administrative leave for three days, as per department policy. Their names will be released after 24 hours.
Daily News reporter Sean Cockerham and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Don Hunter at 1-907-257-4341 or James Halpin at 1-907-257-4589.