NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Tennessee man accused of killing his former employer with a hatchet had tried to purchase a gun days before the attack but failed a background check, officials said Tuesday.
Domenic Micheli, 36, has been charged with criminal homicide in the June 4 slaying of his former boss, 46-year-old Joel Paavola, at a gym in Nashville. Police say Micheli killed Paavola with a hatchet and another bladed instrument.
Acting Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Jason Locke told The Tennessean that "there could have been a whole lot more casualties" if Micheli had been able to purchase a gun.
Micheli attempted to buy a firearm on May 30 in Williamson County but was denied, TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said.
Locke said TBI "saw some things" in the background check and turned down the purchase but wasn't specific about why it was denied.
Paavola, who was killed as he led a workout at his gym in the Nashville suburb of Belle Meade, had fired Micheli more than a year before the attack.
State, federal and local authorities worked for a day and a half to find Micheli after the attack.
A concerned motorist in Kentucky who had heard about the case in the news called police after seeing Micheli's car on Interstate 65 near the Tennessee border, Kentucky State Police Lt. Jeremy Smith said.
The Metro Nashville Police Department said Micheli "admitted in detail" to killing Paavola. He is charged with criminal homicide and being held without bond.
Micheli was found competent last month to stand trial in a separate case after the U.S. Secret Service arrested him near the White House in April, according to a Washington federal court document.
Police have said he drove to a checkpoint near the White House and refused directions to move, a misdemeanor charge.