Richard Sussman arrived from New Jersey over the weekend after his mother, brother and sister-in-law were shot dead in their northern Wake County home.
Just before 6 p.m. Friday, sheriff’s deputies walked into the home at 5907 Clearsprings Road in Wake Forest and found three people dead inside: Sandy Mazzella, 47; his wife, Stephanie Mazzella, 43; and Sandy Mazzella’s mother, Elaine Mazzella, 76.
Their neighbor, Jonathan Frederick Sander, 52, of 5917 Clearsprings Road, Wake Forest, is charged with three counts of first degree murder, according to Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.
Wake County sheriff’s investigators have not disclosed a motive for the shootings, but Sussman said they stemmed from a work dispute.
Never miss a local story.
Neighbors said both Sander and Sandy Mazzella worked for a landscaping business, Advanced Mowing & Landscaping Inc. A company truck sat in each yard.
The company’s website lists Sandy Mazzella as the president.
Last month, Sander was arrested and charged with communicating threats. It is unclear whether the Mazzellas reported it, but they were granted a temporary restraining order against Sander on the grounds that he threatened to kill them.
The Mazzellas wanted a permanent restraining order, but the temporary order was lifted Thursday by a Wake County judge, Sussman said.
“The judge said it was just words,” Sussman said about the threat. “The next day he killed everyone.”
Hours before the shooting, Wake County deputies had been to the two houses on Clearsprings Drive to settle a dispute.
Sussman said Stephanie Mazzella’s brother had been out walking the family dogs when the shootings were taking place. He called 911 when he returned to the home and found his family members dead.
“He came in the house with a shotgun and shot everybody,” the brother said.
The couple’s 14-year-old daughter and Salvatore Mazzella, Elaine Mazzella’s husband, were in the house at the time but were not shot.
Sussman said Salvatore Mazzella was hospitalized after the shooting. His parents decision to visit was a “spur of the moment thing” at his dad’s suggestion, Sussman said.
“He’s blaming himself,” Sussman said. “He says he’s the reason she got killed.”
Soon after the shootings, Salvatore Mazzella ran outside and stopped at least two passing motorists, according to 911 recordings made public Sunday by the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.
One female motorist told a dispatcher that a man in near-hysterics jumped in her car after he fled the home. The woman caller, whose name was not made public, told the dispatcher that the man was standing in the road and flagged her down to tell her about the shootings.
“He asked me to call 911 because his phone is not working,” she said.
The motorist told the man: “Sir, you need to get out of my car, right now,” .
Salvatore Mazzella stood in the road after deputies arrived yelling at Sander’s wife, who was standing outside with the couple’s children.
“You killed my wife. You killed my wife,” Salvatore Mazzella yelled, according to the 911 recordings. One woman called 911 and reported her husband had gone outside to investigate the source of the gunshots they heard behind their home.
“Your husband needs to come in the house and lock the doors,” the dispatcher told her. “It’s not safe to be outside.”
Meanwhile, the Mazzellas’ 14-year-old daughter – between sobs, screams and wails – told a dispatcher she was in her room when the man shot her parents.
“I’m scared, please hurry,” she said. “My parents got shot, my mom and dad. I’m so scared.”
Stephanie Mazzella’s brother told a dispatcher that “there was “blood everywhere.”
He brushed off the dispatcher’s suggestion to render medical assistance.
“No,” he said. “They’re done.”