The elementary school teacher who shot and killed his son after apparently believing him to be a burglar did not realize the magnitude of what he had done until after paramedics arrived to take the body away, authorities said Friday.
Police said that on Thursday, shortly after midnight, Jeffrey Giuliano got a frantic call from his sister, who was concerned that someone was trying to break into her home. At her behest, he walked next door to check on the house.
He later told investigators that he saw someone with a knife stalking the property's perimeter and confronted him. A scuffle ensued, authorities said, and Giuliano fatally shot the intruder.
When police arrived, they found Giuliano, wearing a T-shirt and shorts, sitting on the side lawn of the house on Meeting House Hill Circle.
His son's body lay sprawled several feet away on the driveway, still clutching the knife, authorities said. The 15-year-old was apparently clad in all black and wearing a ski mask.
"He didn't know it was his son. ... We made the identification." State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said. He said Jeffrey Giuliano had not removed the teenager's mask, as had been initially reported.
On Friday, Vance reiterated that the investigation was far from over, but early indications were that the father felt threatened by the teenager and opened fire.
"It's going to take several weeks for us to finish," Vance said Friday. "There's no timetable on that. We'll do it as quickly and efficiently as possible."
As of Friday morning, no criminal charges had been filed.
Lori DePalma, who had taken in Tyler (his birth name was Januzzi) when he was having trouble at home, said that she was in disbelief when a friend from New Fairfield telephoned her to tell her the news. DePalma said she felt compelled to speak up because she said that authorities' portrayal of Tyler as a troubled teenager was inaccurate.
"He was just so kind and loving, and he just wanted to be loved," she said.
"I didn't want to believe that it happened, so I called the Januzzis' house yesterday and they said yes, it did happen. I feel like I lost my baby," DePalma said by telephone from her home in Florida. "I just want people to know that he was just the sweetest little baby. We're just so heartbroken."
DePalma said Friday that between trips to the Poconos and Jones Beach, Tyler endeared himself to the family, to the point that her three sons treated him as a brother. She said she hadn't spoken with Tyler in years -- he had gone to live with the Giulianos in 2008 -- but had heard through the friend that he got along well with his adopted family.
Friends said that father and son were close.
Tyler sometimes tagged along with his father to Meeting House Hill School, where Jeffrey Giuliano taught fifth-grade science, and the two shared a love for flying.
But his online posts often painted a different picture.
His status updates on a social networking platform called Lifestream often took on a more melancholy tone.
The shooting rattled people in New Fairfield, a town of nearly 14,000 that abuts the New York state line.
"I think everybody is in kind of a holding pattern," First Selectman John Hodge said. "It's just a tragic story on so many different levels."
Hodge said the question haunting investigators and the public is why Tyler had gone with a weapon to his aunt's house in the middle of the night.
"Of course, the million-dollar question is what was on his mind," Hodge said Friday. "The pieces to the puzzle don't really add up at this time."
On Thursday, many of Tyler Giuliano's friends and classmates took to Twitter to convey their condolences.
One person, whose handle is BK1mmel, wrote, "you can only hope nobody ever has to feel the pain and guilt that Mr G feels right now. prayers go out to the family.. RIP Tyler."
Another tweeted: "To think I was just in class with Tyler on Thursday, joking around and talking with him; he was such a nice kid and a good friend #RIP."
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