Nathan Roman and Michael Marchines had been friends since grade school and that is what makes it so hard for Roman’s family to understand why his friend could shoot the 30-year-old South Strabane Township man before turning the gun on himself a half-hour later.
Washington County Coroner Tim Warco ruled Roman’s death early Thursday a homicide and the death of 31-year-old Marchines a suicide.
“Our family and Mike’s family are torn apart,” Casey Roman, Roman’s younger sister said Friday. “They did pretty much everything together.”
City police Lt. Daniel Stanek said that the two apparently got into an argument inside the bar at Hungry Jose’s on South Main Street about 2:30 a.m. Thursday. The two, along with a mutual friend, were the only patrons inside the bar.
Roman joined Marchines and the other man at Hungry Jose’s after getting off work at the Cumberland Mine in Greene County, where he was a miner. Stanek said the other friend had picked Marchines up at his Washington home and the two went to the Keystone Club, also on South Main, before joining Roman at Hungry Jose’s.
“The argument turned somewhat physical,” Stanek said. “On surveillance video, you can see the two pushing each other and knocking over some stools.”
The mutual friend separated the men. They all went outside and their friend again had to separate Roman and Marchines before he walked to his vehicle.
“Then he heard three shots and saw Marchines run,” Stanek said. “He heard Roman say ‘I can’t believe you shot me’ before he collapsed.”
Stanek said the friend was not able to shed any light on the subject of the argument.
“There didn’t seem to be a particular topic,” he said. “We probably will never know.”
Harry Damerow, Roman’s stepfather, described his stepson as a hard-working man who loved his family. He said that his stepson and Marchines had been friends since grade school.
“He was a hell of a guy, a great brother,” Damerow said Friday. “He liked the finer things in life. That is why he worked so hard.”
“This has just tore apart both families, because we have no answers,” Damerow said. “But we don’t hate Mike’s family.”
Casey Roman said her brother was very smart and would do anything for his family.
“He loved to cook and grill,” she said. “He was going to teach me and our mom how to make salsa.”
She said her brother loved going to Phish concerts and also enjoyed traveling. He also enjoyed the outdoors and fishing. Roman was also a big Penguins and Pirates fan.
“A lot of people knew him,” said his sister. “He had so many friends.”
Before becoming a miner about seven years ago, he lived in Columbus, Ohio, where he made prosthetic limbs.
“He loved Yuengling beer,” said his sister. “We had to take him cases of it when he lived in Ohio because he couldn’t get it there.”
Marchines shared Roman’s passion for the band Phish and he was a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Steelers, attending games when his schedule allowed. He loved spending time with his family and friends.
Stanek said that he expects to close the case once the tests are done on the ballistics to determine the same gun was used in both shootings.
“We were treating this as a homicide so we don’t miss anything,” Stanek said.
He expects that it will take a few months to get the report back from the state police crime laboratory.