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QUESTIONS SURROUND SHOOTING DEATH

This report ran on WTNH News, a local ABC affiliate in New Haven.

(Bozrah-WTNH, Dec. 10, 2001 10:50 PM ) _Family and friends of a Bozrah native, who was shot and killed by police in a Vermont church are preparing to say their last good byes. This as the investigation continues into whether or not the distraught man, Robert Woodward, was truly a threat.

 

Mary Ellen Tomczak, a friend of Woodward's, says, "It does make me want to cry."

It's tough for Mary Ellen to look at a scene from her wedding day. The images were taken just three months ago. In the video is her good friend, Robert Woodward. He is dancing with her 93-year-old grandmother. It is a depiction of what she remembers of her friend's considerate, caring ways.

Mary Ellen recalls, "He's just so gentle and tender with her and they're both smiling."

Another person who calls Robert Woodward a friend, Stephen Monroe Tomczak, remembers, "My friend was extremely gentle, peaceful and a kind human being."

That's why it is so difficult for Mary Ellen and her husband Stephen to grasp accounts surrounding their friend's sudden and violent death.

Stephen says, "It strikes me, frankly, as inexplicable and bizarre."

Woodward, or Woody as friends called him, was killed inside a Vermont church. Witnesses say he broke down crying and pulled a knife. Police officers called to the scene opened fire because they say Woodward made threatening moves.

That story doesn't make sense to the Tomczak's who say their friend worked with foster children and wouldn't hurt a fly.

Stephen wonders, "It seems like excessive force was used. There were seven shots fired against my friend, who by all accounts was only wielding a pocket knife."

The Tomczak's claim Woodward showed no signs of mental illness. As officials in Vermont examine the case, the Tomczak's vow to press ahead with their own investigation.

Stephen explains, "I am deeply saddened and overcome with a great sense of loss. I also have a great resolve to find the truth and a strong resolve to know what it is that happened."

A search for answers will not be easy, but the Tomczak's say they will draw strength from their friend's kind spirit.