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Filam caregiver killed by 91-year-old patient

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Washington – Joe Conway Elder, a 91-year-old patient in an adult family home, Sept. 16 shot and killed the Filipino American caregiver who was serving him grapes.
caregiver.jpg Elder, who has been residing in the family home since December, fatally shot Ramoncito Barro, 39, father of five children and operator of Total Care AFH adult family home which provides rooms for elderly patients.
On Sept. 17, Elder was arraigned and charged in court with second degree murder. But the judge ordered that Elder undergo a competency evaluation to determine whether he could be prosecuted.
The community reacted to the killing by launching a fundraising drive for the five young children of Barro, who was originally from Pampanga.
Elder, dressed in an orange jail uniform, sat in a wheelchair and wore headphones connected to a voice-amplifying device during the hearing. Superior Court Judge Thomas Felnagle indicated that Elder suffered from major depression, delusional disorder and a personality disorder with paranoid and schizophrenic features. Prosecutors said Elder was ruled mentally incapacitated by a King County judge last year with symptoms of delusion, paranoid schizoid behavior and depression. It added that he could not make decisions for himself and ordered that family members do this for him.
Felnagle ordered the evaluation. He also found probable cause to charge Elder with second-degree murder but postponed his arraignment until after the competency evaluation.
The charge documents provided a few new details but offered no motive. “It is unclear what defendant was upset about, no arguing or fighting was heard,” charging documents state.
The shooting took place in Barro’s home in the 5800 block of 62nd Street West. Barro was licensed to run Total Care AFH, an adult care home that provides rooms to elderly patients. Elder had lived at the home since December.
According to court documents, Barro went to Elder’s room Sept. 16 to bring him some grapes, Elder’s favorite. Elder shot Barro in the chest. Barro’s mother-in-law, Marietta Malang, an employee at the home, heard the noise and went to Elder’s room. She found the door locked but heard her son-in-law say, “You shot me,” court documents state.
“She opened the door and saw the defendant standing behind the victim, beating him with his fists, while the victim was slumped over a portable commode,” charging documents state. “She tried to intervene and defendant began physically assaulting her too.”
Malang was able to get free of Elder. She saw the gun on his bed, grabbed it and ran out of the room. Barro was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center, where he died a short time later.
The gun, a .38-caliber revolver, was registered to Elder. His caregivers did not know he had it. Residents of state-licensed adult family homes can own guns if they pass a test showing they are mentally and physically capable of using the weapons safely. The guns must be locked up while stored in the home.
Elder’s only known criminal history is a conviction 22 years ago for unlawful discharge of a gun.
In addition to operating Total Care, Barro worked as a dialysis technician for DaVita Inc. in Tacoma, said his sister, Genalin Pecache.
She called Barro “the rock” of the extended family, working two jobs but still finding time to drive his own kids and sometimes nieces and nephews to school. He also did much of the cooking for his family,
Pecache said.
Barro had three girls in first, third and fifth grades at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Tacoma.
He was a “very, very nice man,” said Jeff McVicker, the school’s development director.

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