Memories Of Fear, Flames Woman Pushed Blind Mother Out Of House As Beserk Brother Shot Two Members Of Family, Then Set Fire To Home

SATURDAY, OCT. 21, 1995

Barbara Janosky didn’t even see the gun in her brother’s hand.

Once the shootings were over, Richard Ross had killed her younger brother, critically injured Janosky and burned down the Spokane Valley home they grew up in, taking his own life in the flames.

“He put the gun to my back and shot me,” she said.

Janosky felt a rush of pain as the bullet entered her body, shattering a hip.

Friday in her Spokane hospital room, Janosky remembered seeing Richard Ross, 46, continue shooting at 37-year-old Bob Ross.

Their mother, Ruth Ross, 74, was injured when Janosky pushed her down the stairs and out of the house, and then fell on top of her so they could escape the blaze.

Richard Ross apparently died of smoke inhalation inside the home.

Janosky said she’s trying not to be angry.

“I just feel something snapped in his head,” she said. “I don’t blame him. I just have to accept it.”

After the September shootings, Janosky, 44, was fighting for her life, a family member said.

Now, she’s recovering from her wounds and is crocheting, reading, watching television and chatting with visitors in her room at Deaconess Medical Center.

She expects to leave the hospital soon to begin rehabilitation and eventually return to her job as the manager of the Sullivan Gables apartment complex in the Valley.

Janosky, the mother of four children, vividly remembers the ordeal that left two of her three siblings dead.

Janosky, Bob Ross and their mother were waiting in the kitchen of the Valley home, 801 N. University, for an appointment with an attorney when the shootings began on Sept. 28.

Ruth Ross was planning to move into the Sullivan Gables apartment complex, because she could no longer care for the home she’d lived in for 36 years. And it was becoming more difficult for her to climb 14 steps to the bathroom.

Mother, son and daughter were planning to check Ruth Ross’ will and her deed on the house. They feared Richard Ross, who didn’t want to lose the family home, had tampered with the paperwork.

As they waited, Richard Ross, who worked at George Gee Pontiac in the Valley, came into the room, arguing that the house shouldn’t be sold. He didn’t want to leave.

Ruth Ross tried to end the argument by saying they had to leave for their 3 p.m. appointment.

Bob Ross, followed by his mother and Janosky, led the way onto a small porch in back of the house.

Before they could get out, Richard Ross followed them and brandished a gun.

“At first, I didn’t see the gun,” Janosky said.

Richard Ross yelled for her to move but gave her no time, then fired.

Janosky said she was in pain but remained standing. Then, she saw a bullet graze Bob Ross in the head but couldn’t see clearly what happened to him. Richard Ross continued shooting, then brought a can from the garage and began splashing gasoline around the house.

Janosky couldn’t move her legs but knew she and her mother, who is legally blind and uses a walker, had to escape.

So Janosky pushed her mother down some steps and then fell on top of her. They saw Bob Ross face down in the dirt.

Janosky saw white smoke and gas fly from the upstairs bathroom and could hear ammunition bursting from the heat.

Finally, some officers dragged Janosky and her mother across University to a neighbor’s yard.

“I did hear a cop asking Richard to come out,” she said.

Janosky remained conscious during the ambulance ride as a paramedic repeatedly urged her to stay awake.

Once the ambulance doors burst open at Deaconess, she lost consciousness for four days.

When she awakened, she began grieving the loss of her brother, Bob.

“He was just a really happy guy, loved life,” she said.

Janosky believes her older brother went crazy.

“All he could think of was the house, so he went berserk,” Janosky remembered. “Anyone in his normal mind wouldn’t choose a house over his family.”

Her brother had changed after returning from Vietnam, where he served as a Marine, Janosky said. He was more introverted and paranoid, even becoming grumpy when his mother asked him to do a chore.

“She couldn’t get him to do anything without him being grouchy,” Janosky said. “He wasn’t treating her right. To me, it was like he was holding her hostage.”

Janosky said her brother believed his three siblings had left the burden of caring for their mother to him.

“He was there bill-free for 15 years yet he thought the little bit of care he did for her would pay for it,” she said.

Remaining in the house was an obsession for him, she said.

“He said, ‘If I can’t have this, no one can.”’

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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