RICHMOND, Va. — Robert S. Gooch IV had served overseas in the military, had been deployed to Afghanistan more than once and had never been injured, his father said.
But on Tuesday evening, Gooch was fatally shot during a trip to the store with his teenage daughter to buy a bag of popcorn before watching a movie, said the victim’s father, Robert Gooch III.
Police believe Gooch and the man who shot him outside a Wawa store off Hull Street Road in Chesterfield County did not know each other. A motive for the shooting was unclear Wednesday.
Robert Gooch IV, a 34-year-old father of three children, was shot multiple times while returning to his vehicle from the store, the authorities said. During the encounter, Gooch pushed his 13-year-old daughter down to get her out of the way and told her to “get down,” the victim’s father said. “Then he told her to call me.”
“He’s an Army officer and he understands how to give orders and get things done,” the father said in a phone interview Wednesday. “He’s not somebody who would ever panic. He was calm and in charge.”
After he was wounded, Gooch was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. His daughter also was examined at a hospital and was found to be physically unharmed, her grandfather said. The alleged gunman was captured hours later after a police pursuit.
Chesterfield police Capt. Jay Thornton said it appears that no words were exchanged between the shooter and victim.
“From what we can tell there was no argument,” Thornton said. “There was no verbal back and forth at all.”
The shooting unfolded shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday outside the Wawa in the 16000 block of Otterdale Station Way, a short distance from Robert Gooch IV’s home in the 7700 block of Hampton Green Drive in the Hampton Park neighborhood. On Wednesday, plywood could be seen near the entrance of the Wawa covering up three spaces that once held windows that were damaged during the incident.
Thornton said the suspect, 34-year-old George Thomas Buschmann, left the Wawa after the shooting in a vehicle that was spotted by authorities early Wednesday morning.
Shortly after 1 a.m., Powhatan County sheriff’s deputy Phillip Barden tried to stop a silver 2007 Toyota for speeding on U.S. 60 in Powhatan, said Anne Reynolds, crime analyst for the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office.
The Toyota did not stop and led authorities on a chase east on U.S. 60 into Chesterfield, then into Richmond and Henrico County, where police deployed spike strips, Reynolds said. The vehicle stopped and Buschmann was taken into custody.
Chesterfield, Richmond and Henrico police, along with Powhatan authorities, were involved in the pursuit, Reynolds said. Powhatan deputies received information that the Toyota had been stolen from Chesterfield County, she said. It was unclear when and from where in Chesterfield the vehicle was stolen.
A shotgun and rifle were located inside the vehicle, according to a law enforcement source.
Thornton said Buschmann has no fixed address. He is charged with first-degree murder, use of a firearm in a felony, grand larceny of a motor vehicle, felony eluding, possession of a firearm after being involuntarily committed, and transporting a firearm while being subject to a protective order.
Buschmann was arraigned on the charges Wednesday in Chesterfield General District Court via video hookup from the Chesterfield Jail, where he is being held. Attorney Randy Rowlett was appointed to represent him. A preliminary hearing has been set for March 26.
Contacted late Wednesday afternoon, Rowlett said he met briefly with Buschmann in jail but the attorney declined to comment until he learns more about the case.
Robert Gooch III said his son grew up in the Richmond area and graduated from Manchester High School. He joined the Navy and later was commissioned into the Army as an officer after he earned his bachelor’s degree.
“At some point he was investigating safety issues,” his father said. “His job was all about making unsafe situations as safe as possible.”
The younger Gooch had been stationed at Fort Belvoir in Northern Virginia and would have retired Friday as a major, his father said.
“He was home every chance he had,” the elder Gooch said. “He was a better father than I was.”
He also said his son was quick to help out his friends. About a half-hour before he was shot, Gooch had been installing a doorbell at a neighbor’s home, his dad said. “He was doing what he always did — helping out.”
Buschmann, the man charged with killing Gooch, has had several run-ins with the law in the past two years for violating protective orders filed against him by his spouse and former housemates.
On March 21, 2017, a Chesterfield judge issued a preliminary protective order against Buschmann on behalf of a couple with whom he was living in the 5400 block of Ridgerun Terrace, according to court records. The order indicated that Buschmann was armed with a weapon.
The order stated that Buschmann was required to remain at least 100 yards from the couple’s home, school and work. But he was arrested two days later and charged with three counts of violating the order, court records show.
One of the victims, Abigail Sheetz, wrote in a criminal complaint that after Buschmann was served with the protective order, he was at their home on March 22, 2017, when they returned from a store and a restaurant. Buschmann’s moped was parked in their driveway “and he was inside the house,” Sheetz wrote. “We instantly dialed 911.”
Buschmann apparently had been living at the Ridgerun Terrace address until the protective order had been obtained against him.
He was convicted in June 2017 of all three counts in Chesterfield General District Court, but he appealed the decision to Chesterfield Circuit Court. In August 2017, he pleaded guilty to one count in exchange for prosecutors dropping the two others, and he was sentenced to 12 months in jail with six months suspended. He was placed on unsupervised probation for three years.
Buschmann’s spouse, from whom he is separated, also encountered difficulties with Buschmann. Over the past two years, she obtained two protective orders against him in Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
The orders, filed on behalf of herself and the couple’s young daughter, expired on July 1, 2017, and Aug. 31, 2018, respectively, according to court records. The second order indicated that Buschmann and his wife had lived together within the previous 12 months in an apartment on Chamberlayne Avenue in Richmond.
Buschmann was charged with violating the first protective order on June 18, 2017, and he was convicted of the offense after pleading no contest. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail with 11 months and 29 days suspended, records show.