From the Town Talk:
Article published Oct 5, 2007
UPDATED AT 3:30 a.m.: Standoff ends; gunman killed
Alexandria man shot 5 at law office, two victims found dead, say family
By Abbey Brown and Warren Hayes
Police early this morning stormed a downtown Alexandria law office, which earlier Thursday had been the scene of a shootout in which five people were shot – at least three seriously injured and two others confirmed dead. Upon entering the Giordano & Giordano Law Office in the 800 block of Washington Street, police discovered the suspected gunman dead.
The standoff between police and the gunman, identified as John C. Ashley, 63, of Alexandria, started just after 2 p.m. Thursday and lasted until just before 2:30 a.m., at which point officers from throughout Central Louisiana stormed the law office in a hail of bullets and tear gas.
Police had been working late into the night Thursday urging Ashley’s surrender. Throughout the standoff, the gunman and police exchanged shots, and police repeatedly fired tear gas and other non-lethal means into the house.
Police had said there were two people inside the office along with the gunman. Those two victims were killed by the gunman, authorities said after the standoff ended.
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy identified the victims who died in the standoff as lawyer Joey Giordano and Marty Thiels, a postman who apparently had gone to the law office to deliver mail.
Following the standoff, Alexandria Police Chief Daren Coutee said officers had hoped to bring the gunman out alive.
“We tried to remove the suspect from the building, but unfortunately it did not end as we had hoped,” Coutee said.
Earlier in the standoff, the gunman shot at a robot sent in after 7 p.m. to check on the welfare of the hostages. The robot then was used to negotiate with the gunman, who earlier in the day refused to answer the phone and speak with police.
Just after police were dispatched to the scene, they were seen pushing a vehicle away from the law office containing two shooting victims – lawyer Sam Giordano, 49, who was shot in the chest and was listed in stable condition; and Andrea Price, 27, a secretary at the firm, who was listed in fair condition after being shot in the leg.
Both were taken by ambulance to Rapides Regional Medical Center.
A third victim was rescued by Alexandria Police just after 4 p.m. – lawyer Camille Giordano, the father of Joey Giordano and brother of Sam Giordano, who was taken for surgery at Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital. He was carried out wearing only white boxer shorts and had at least one gunshot wound to the chest.
Just before Camille Giordano’s rescue, an Alexandria Police Special Response Team member hopped into a tow truck, threw it into reverse and idled as the other members of the team connected a chain and hook to the white bars of the window.
The officer then drove at full speed away from the house, but the chain slipped and the bars stayed put. A few minutes later, officers tried another way to gain entry – they broke in the windows, but they still couldn’t get to the awaiting victims.
Stretchers were lined up with Acadian Ambulance and Alexandria Fire Department personnel ready.
A second attempt with the tow truck saw the bars removed.
After the bars were off, SRT members raided the house and pulled out Camille Giordano, quickly leaving. There were two SRT members on each side of him helping him out.
They laid him on the ground in the front yard of the house as a man wearing a suit and bulletproof vest ran up to the victim and began to assess him with an officer guarding them.
A few minutes later, three SRT members picked Giordano up and carried him to a stretcher waiting nearby. He was whisked away in an ambulance.
He was still in surgery late Thursday night.
After Giordano was taken away, officers began to use a bullhorn to communicate with the gunman.
“Put your hands up where we can see them,” an officer said into the public address system. “Come to the front door.
“The phone’s ringing. Pick it up.
“No one wants to harm you. We just want to talk to you.
“Make contact with us please.”
Ashley, of Willow Glen River Road, is a retired city of Alexandria Public Works employee who witnesses said has been depressed the past few years.
Ashley’s daughter died earlier this year, said his wife, Evelyn Ashley of Alexandria.
Sgt. Clifford Gatlin, the Alexandria Police Department’s public information officer, said police officers were called to 831 Washington St. at 2:20 p.m. after receiving a 911 call.
About 20 to 30 police cars were on the scene, along with representatives from Alexandria Police’s SRT, the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, Pineville Police Department, Alexandria City Marshal’s Office, Louisiana State Police, FBI, U.S. Marshal’s Office, Red Cross, Salvation Army and the U.S. Postal Service.
Asked if one of the victims was a postal worker, officials declined to comment. A postal truck still sat outside of the office as police were trying to get the gunman out.
Nine city blocks were sealed off while officers tried to free the remaining victims.
Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Maj. Quinnis Smith said after the report of the shootout was received, all of the sheriff’s employees were evacuated to the far side of the Rapides Parish Courthouse, away from the shooting, and the building was put on lockdown like many other downtown businesses. At 5 p.m., after vehicles could be strategically parked, the courthouse was evacuated, he said.
The Sheriff’s Office, Smith said, is providing any and all assistance requested by the city, including equipment and manpower. He said there were about 100 deputies who were assisting with the effort, including those on the scene in supportive roles and those assisting the city in responding to police calls.
“We are doing everything we can with what we have,” he said of the situation.
The back door to the law office was nailed shut, leaving officers only the front entrance. It is still unknown if the door was nailed shut before the incident or by the gunman.
Throughout the day and night, SRT members heavily shielded by their body armor ran around the house in various formations. A few times, the men entered the home and fired shots.
Ambulance and fire personnel stayed at attention for most of the day and night but toward the late hours were seen sitting on the stretchers or sidewalk as their day dragged into the evening. Officers stood at attention propped behind police cars used for protection.
After 5 p.m., SRT members began firing into the law office at rapid speed as the gunman shot out of the building toward them.
“Shots fired, shots fired!” officers yelled.
During one of the gunfire exchanges, a bullet hit a stop sign where officers and others had gathered.
Alexandria Police Sgt. Ronnie Besson said flash bangs were used.
“A flash bang emits light, and hopefully we can distract him,” Besson said. “If this doesn’t stop him, we will use gas.”
Air tanks were on standby if needed by officers.
Windows were knocked out of the building, and an armored truck was used, Besson said.
Earlier in the evening, police twice tried to enter the building, but shots from the gunman caused police to back off. In the late evening hours there were at least two more exchanges of gunfire between the gunman and officers.