Wawa shooting suspect found not guilty by reason of insanity

Wawa shooting suspect found not guilty by reason of insanity

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - The man accused of shooting and killing a Chesterfield man at a Wawa in January was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

George Thomas Buschmann, 34, of no permanent address, was charged with first-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, grand larceny of a motor vehicle, felony eluding, possession of a firearm after being involuntarily committed and transporting a firearm while being subject to a protective order.

All charges received the same verdict of not guilty due to insanity.

In a statement, commonwealth’s attorney Scott Miles said he will push for Buschmann to be held in a “secure environment” while under going mental health treatment.

“The psychologists concluded that Mr. Buschmann’s mental state at the time of the offenses negates criminal liability. In accordance with state law, the judge committed Mr. Buschmann temporarily to the custody of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for additional inpatient evaluation,” Miles said. “We believe that Mr. Buschmann’s release into the community would create an extreme threat to public safety, and his containment to avoid that threat is our first priority. So, we anticipate advocating for the court to order that Mr. Buschmann remain in a secure environment as he receives mental health treatment appropriate to his condition.”

Court documents show Buschmann was found guilty of a violating a protective order in 2017. He was sentenced to six months in jail after being in the home of a victim who had taken out a protective order against him. In December 2018 he was sentenced to 10 days in jail in Henrico for driving under a suspended license.

At 7:13 p.m. Jan. 8, police were called to the Wawa at Otterdale Road and Hull Street Road for a reported shooting. A victim, identified as Robert S. Gooch, IV, 34, of Chesterfield, was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, where he later died.

Buschmann was arrested the next day.

"What was his behavior during the crime? Was he delusional? Was he making accusations? Paranoid?" asked Criminal Defense Attorney Debra Corcoran.

She didn’t try this case but has represented clients who used insanity as their defense. She says it’s difficult to prove.

“What the person was about before the crime was committed. Did he have bouts of psychosis? Was he diagnosed as schizophrenic? Was he in and out of mental health institutions,” she points to questions that must be addressed in a case like this.

Monday the court decided Buschmann’s defense presented a solid case.

“The psychologists concluded that Mr. Buschmann’s mental state at the time of the offenses negates criminal liability…We believe that Mr. Buschmann’s release into the community would create an extreme threat to public safety, and his containment to avoid that threat is our first priority. So, we anticipate advocating for the court to order that Mr. Buschmann remain in a secure environment as he receives mental health treatment appropriate to his condition,” Commonwealths Attorney Scott Miles said in a statement.

"I’m happier when someone commits a heinous crime when they are found not guilty or acquitted by reason of insanity, that they are diverted to an environment where the public is safe,” Corcoran added.

LeQuan Hylton knew Gooch and his family for some 20 years.

“They raised Robert with Christian values - compassion, gentleness, kindness, and love, which Robert showed each day. These are the values the family lives by. Robert was an incredible father, son, brother, friend and Army officer,” he said.

Hylton added Monday’s verdict wasn’t desirable but he respects the justice system.

“Unfortunately, no verdict can reverse the evil actions that caused his death. I ask for continued prayers for Robert’s family as they face the days ahead….” Hylton added.

“We appreciate the patience and wisdom that Robert Gooch’s family has displayed as they grieve his loss while witnessing these legal proceedings,” Miles said.

Friends says Gooch was a father of three and soldier in the U.S. Army who served several tours in Afghanistan. Gooch’s friend said he was set to retire a few days after the shooting.

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