BRAINTREE, MASS. (WHDH) – A man accused of fatally shooting his former neighbor, a beloved Weston school nurse, at her home in Braintree on Wednesday morning has been ordered held without bail.
Robert Bonang, 61, of Marshfield, was arraigned remotely Thursday in Quincy District Court on murder and firearms charges in connection with the death of 59-year-old Laurie Melchionda, according to the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Bonang allegedly showed up at Melchionda’s Howie Road home just before 11 a.m., wearing a brown uniform similar to those sported by UPS delivery drivers. Police said he also wore a wig and had a rifle concealed in a cardboard box.
Police said the box had a hole cut out for the muzzle of a rifle and another hole cut for where a hand could fit inside and fire the weapon. A UPS mailing envelope was also taped to the front of the box.
A babysitter who was out walking two young children witnessed the shooting, according to prosecutors. One of the children told detectives that Bonang looked like a “fake UPS driver.”
Bonang shot Melchionda in the entryway of her front door after ringing the bell, prosecutors said. She was reportedly shot multiple times in the back and head.
One of the children also stated they could see Bonang walking around as if he was “in a daze” before he started “shooting from the box,” according to court documents.
Officers responding to the scene found Melchionda face down on the ground near her shattered storm door as Bonang stood nearby and waved at them, authorities wrote in a police report. Bonang was then ordered to the ground at gunpoint and handcuffed.
Investigators later recovered a .22-caliber long rifle, a police scanner, a brown shirt similar to one a UPS driver would wear, a gray wig, a handgun, and a surgical mask that were scattered on Melchionda’s front lawn, the documents indicated. Sixteen spent shell casings were located in the box and ammunition was also found in Bonang’s rental car.
Melchionda was taken to South Shore Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Melchionda, who served as the director of health services for Weston Public Schools, was targeted by Bonang, according to Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey. Police have responded to complaints about Bonang in the past.
“I guess they’ve had a number of calls, general neighborhood complaints that he may have been involved in; even a domestic potentially, so that’s obviously being looked at,” Morrissey said.
Those who knew Melchionda said they were shocked to learn she had been killed.
Neighborhood residents told detectives that Bonang had lived across the street from Melchionda “for several decades” before moving away about five years ago, the police report indicated. They described him as a “delusional introvert” who had “mental health issues” and would often exhibit “paranoid behavior.”
In a statement, Weston Superintendent Dr. Midge Connolly said, “We are reeling from this shocking and devastating news. Please join me in extending our heartfelt sympathies to Laurie’s family.”
Connolly added that grief counselors will be made available in the coming days to assist students and staff with the “range of emotions that accompany such as tragic loss.”
Braintree Mayor Charles Kokoros also released a statement on Melchionda’s death, which read in part, “She was a wonderful mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend to all who knew her, myself included.”
Her former students said she was an incredible woman with the community’s best interest at heart.
“She wasn’t only a school nurse. She was someone you could go to and talk to if you were having a rough time. A shoulder to lean on,” former student Isabella Macchi said. “She was just a great woman.”
Former student Abby Smith added, “She was there for me every single day. She would let me sit and calm down and she would, like, talk me through it and just like, literally, the kindest lady anyone has ever met.”
Prosecutors have not released details on a possible motive for the alleged murder.
Bonang, who wasn’t licensed to carry a firearm in Massachusetts, is due back in court in July.
An investigation remains ongoing.