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3 dementia patients dead in shooting.

Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard

A lifelong resident of Sacramento, Joe Bruscia had lived in the same neighborhood his entire life and spent 37 years as the fire chief at McClellan Air Force Base. Last year, however, Kathie Bruscia decided to move her aging father, a widower since 1985 whose dementia was growing worse, to Alpine Court Assisted Living and Memory Care Community in Bethel.

He seemed happy there, Kathie Bruscia said. And he seemed to be getting better.

But Friday night another resident, 86-year-old Frank Kuykendall, became upset when Bruscia, 80, paid a visit to Kuykendall's wife, Ruby, also 86, according to Eugene Police.

Now all three are dead.

Kuykendall shot Bruscia in the face about 9:30 p.m. in a commons area of the upscale facility's memory care wing. He then returned to the room he shared with his wife and shot her in the stomach before turning the handgun on himself, police said. Kuykendall died at the scene. His wife and Bruscia were rushed to Sacred Heart Medical Center and died there.

The murder-suicide was the tragic end to an ongoing dispute among the three, police said.

All three of the dead suffered from some form of dementia at the facility at 3760 N. Clarey St., police said.

Joe Bruscia often wandered from room to room and liked to stop by and visit with Ruby Kuykendall, said Kerry Delf, a Eugene Police spokeswoman. Frank Kuykendall apparently didn't like that, however, and the two had previously been involved in some sort of physical altercation, Delf said.

"But it wasn't anything that would telegraph this level of violence," she said.

Frank Kuykendall had apparently kept the weapon in his room, Delf said.

Alpine spokesman Steve Stradley wouldn't comment on how Kuykendall managed to keep a gun in his room. He did say that having any kind of weapon was against the center's policy.

When asked if residents' rooms are routinely checked or what sort of security Alpine has, Stradley refused to comment.

Bruscia ate Thanksgiving dinner with his two grandchildren, his daughter and her husband, Louie Kroeck, at the couple's Eugene home, Kathie Bruscia said. She and her daughter, Hallie Shafer, 24, then visited him Friday afternoon at Alpine, said Kathie Bruscia, who visited her father every day.

"We just hugged him and talked to him and held his hand," she said. "We left and told him we'd see him (Saturday). Then he waved and that was it," she said through tears. "That was the last time I saw him alive."

It was unclear whether the Kuykendalls had any family in the area. Stradley wouldn't say. Kathie Bruscia said she was unaware of any ongoing dispute involving her father at Alpine.

"These are dementia patients, and they don't remember anything after 20 minutes," Kroeck said.

Kathie Bruscia said she wants to know more about what happened and why a resident at Alpine had a gun. "It's just sort of insane, really bizarre," she said. "I have no idea how it happened. I'm just wanting to find out more."

Grief counseling was available Saturday for residents at the facility, Stradley said.

"Right now, our priority is to take care of the residents and their families and that's what we're trying to do," he said.


Police investigate the shooting Friday night at Alpine Court Assisted Living. The facility offered counseling on Saturday.
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Title Annotation:Crime; A Bethel care facility is the scene of an unusual murder-suicide case
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 30, 2003
Previous Article:Biscuit Fire: Log it or leave it?
Next Article:31: Number of numbers in this column.

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