A fight between two longtime acquaintances inside a West Pike Run Township workshop garage Tuesday morning ended with one man being beaten with a large pipe and the other shot to death, family members said.
Robert Joseph Watson 43, of Bentleyville, was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound to the chest during the altercation inside the detached metal garage in the 300 block of Sunset Drive, according to Washington County Coroner Tim Warco. He ruled the death a homicide.
Family members at the scene identified the shooter as Joe Volcheck and said he acted in self-defense after he suffered a serious head wound when Watson hit him with a large lead pipe. Volcheck, who lives in the home where the incident occurred, was flown by medical helicopter to a Pittsburgh area hospital, although his condition and the severity of his injuries were not known.
Investigators said they hoped to interview Volcheck in the hospital while trying piece together the events that led to the deadly confrontation.
But Volcheck’s father-in-law, John Carbone, said he spoke to him briefly while medics were loading him into an ambulance and he claimed it was self-defense. Carbone said Volcheck told him that Watson attacked him with a lead pipe and he fired his .357-caliber pistol in self-defense.
“He attacked me with a pipe,” Carbon said his son-in-law said as medics tended to his head wound. “I was just defending myself. That’s all I could do.”
Utility workers found Volcheck lying outside the metal garage about 10:30 a.m. and knocked on the home’s door to alert Carbone and other family member of the incident. They said they found Volcheck with a head wound and Watson still clutching the lead pipe.
“He said (Watson) came at him like a wild man,” Carbone said.
State police Trooper Stefani Plume said they are investigating what prompted the shooting and want to talk to Volcheck about the argument. She did not know if charges would be filed.
“We will relay on what he has to say for our investigation,” Plume said.
State police in Belle Vernon did not release more details on the shooting or say whether Volcheck might face charges in the shooting.