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Husband of alleged Publix killer says she 'just snapped'

TARPON SPRINGS — The morning of Tuesday, March 30, began well for Arunya Rouch, offering no hint of the gunshots, blood and death that would soon follow.

Rouch had breakfast with her husband, who said she was in a "great mood." Days earlier, she had celebrated five years working for Publix, where her manager called her a model employee.

She was pleased with her new hairdo.

And just the day before, she had baked her very first cake.

All was not perfect, though. In recent months, she told her husband, she had felt "mentally sick." She complained that her co-worker, Greg Janowski, had been taunting her for years, most recently telling her to "go back to her hole."

But she was planning to transfer from the Tarpon Publix to another store, where her husband worked.

This would get her away from Janowski, described by the store manager as "his eyes and ears in the back" of the store and a "pot stirrer."

The benign details of Rouch's morning stand out in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report released Friday on its investigation into the March 30 shootings at the Tarpon Springs Publix, where, authorities say, she shot and killed Janowski.

According to the FDLE report, here's how things transpired:

Janowski had recently turned Rouch into management for working off the clock. Rouch, in turn, threatened his life.

"I'll kill you if you go after my job," she reportedly said.

After arriving at work that morning, she was fired for violating Publix' zero tolerance policy on threats.

Rouch admitted the threat, and cried.

"If I kill him, then I have to kill myself, and I am crying for my family," she said, according to a witness interview in the report.

She asked for a second chance. It was denied.

Rouch left the store but came back hours later carrying a green Publix bag in which she concealed a gun.

Then the shooting started.

Police say Rouch shot Janowski, who worked in the meat department, at close range while he sat in his car outside the store around noon. He died at the scene.

Rouch then tucked her semiautomatic handgun into the bag and sprinted into the store.

She went upstairs to the administrative offices, telling one employee she "loved her," before peeking in the office of store manager Mickey McPhee, who had fired her hours earlier.

When she couldn't find him, Rouch headed downstairs into the storeroom, which was filled with lunchtime shoppers.

A 72-year-old stock clerk, Virginia Wahler, intercepted Rouch as she came down the frozen food aisle.

"Don't do this," she told Rouch, grabbing her by the arm as Rouch pulled the weapon from her bag.

Wahler let go when Rouch pointed the gun at her and threatened to kill her.

As word spread that someone had a gun, an employee used the intercom to tell people to evacuate the store.

One employee hid under her desk. Others ran from the building, taking their customers with them.

Several employees and at least one customer hid in a walk-in cooler, waiting until a police officer found them and escorted them from the building.

As clerks and shoppers scurried for cover, a Tarpon police detective confronted Rouch as she came up the laundry detergent aisle.

Sgt. Michael Trill, who had heard about the parking lot shooting on his police radio and rushed to the scene, concealed himself behind a display of crackers, scanning for the shooter.

Rouch poked her head out of aisle 10 and seemed surprised to see police, Trill said.

He ordered her to drop the gun.

When she dropped back and fired two rounds, Trill fired back, hitting her several times.

The FDLE, which investigated Trill's role in the shooting, said Friday the officer was justified in his use of force.

Trill, who had been placed on paid administrative leave since the shooting, has been reinstated to active duty.

A Tarpon police investigation into Janowski's shooting is ongoing, said police Lt. Barb Templeton.

Family members have said reports that Janowski, a 40-year-old married father of four, picked on Rouch are false.

Rouch, now 42, was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where she remained until she was released on May 13 to the Pinellas County Jail.

She has been charged with first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and two counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 28.

Rouch's husband, Thomas, 52, told investigators he never heard his wife say anything about wanting to kill Janowski.

"She must have just snapped," he said.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Husband of alleged Publix killer says she 'just snapped' 05/28/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 29, 2010 5:34pm]
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