PHOENIX (AP) – Michael Guzzo suffered for years from paranoia, anger and depression, always refusing to seek help while blaming his troubles on those around him, family members said Tuesday.
Guzzo `s internal fight with those demons culminated over the weekend when he shot to death four members of a family who lived next door to him, along with their two dogs, before turning the gun on himself at their central Phoenix townhome complex.
Authorities and neighbors speculate that the incessant noise of barking dogs possibly drove him to kill. But Janet Guzzo, a retired behavioral nurse who was married to the shooter for more than a decade before divorcing in 2000, said she saw warning signs long ago.
She always knew his life would end at his own hands, but she never suspected he would kill others.
“I always thought it was just a matter of time, but I thought it would be a quiet thing, he’d take himself out in his own home,” she said. “I never thought he would go out in a blaze of glory and kill a whole family … He was just so tortured.”
On Saturday, police say, Guzzo went on a rampage, methodically killing his neighbors Bruce Moore, 66; his daughter, Renee Moore, 36; her husband, Michael Moore, 42, who used his wife’s last name; and Renee’s son, Shannon Moore, 17, along with the family’s two dogs.
Neighbors described a man who was becoming increasingly angry over the noise of barking dogs, confronting some on their doorsteps while placing fliers on homes around him advising people of pet ordinances and fines.
One of the victims, Renee Moore, often told her mother-in-law “the man was crazy. He can’t stand the dogs,” 70-year-old Jacque Alderman said.
Janet Guzzo said her ex-husband was a pharmacist who often worked nights and slept during the day, so the barking dogs likely did take a toll on him. But she said his anger had been brewing for years and the dogs were probably just the catalyst for his inevitable mental meltdown.
She said before their divorce she begged him to seek psychological treatment, but he refused.
“He had this perception that there was nothing wrong with him. He thought, `They’re all out to get me,'” she said. “I believe as he got older, the demons got worse.”
Following an incident when someone wronged Guzzo, she recalled him telling her “`I just want to take him and smash his face.’ “
“I remember thinking, `Oh my god,'” Janet Guzzo said.
She said police told her he bought the shotgun used in the killings a year ago.
“He just lost it,” she said. “I believe he finally snapped, and it all just unfolded like a Greek tragedy.”
But despite his troubles, Janet Guzzo said her ex-husband could also be a loving, gentle man.
To Brenna Darazs, 44, he was simply “Uncle Mike.”
“Everybody wanted Michael to get help,” Darazs said. “He did a horrible thing but he wasn’t a horrible person.”
She said he was kind and funny, but obviously suffering.
“I knew a very loving man who just hurt inside,” Darazs said. “I never felt in the slightest that he was violent. What can I say, I loved him.”
The details of Guzzo’s depression and mental suffering brought little solace to the victims’ family, who are struggling to come up with money for funeral expenses and are still in shock.
“He let his demons take control,” said Patrick Riley, 41, the brother of victim Michael Moore. “He could have sought help. I can’t have any sympathy for him.”
Janet Guzzo, meanwhile, said that while she feels terrible for the victims and their families, she also feels lucky. Police told her Guzzo may have come for her next had he not taken his own life, following a potential pattern of killing those who he believed wronged him.
“That’s the scariest part,” she said. “It could have been me, too.”
AP researchers Jennifer Farrar and Judith Ausuebel contributed to this report.
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