One dead, one wounded in shooting at Stoneham home

STONEHAM — A US Army veteran who served in Afghanistan was killed and another man wounded in a shooting inside a single-family home early Wednesday morning that authorities said did not appear to be random.

Joseph Puopolo Jr., 27, of Stoneham, was discovered fatally shot when police responded shortly after 1 a.m. to a two-story home on Micah’s Pond Way, a quiet cul-de-sac of newer, large residences. Authorities did not name the man who survived the shooting.

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“He had a whole future ahead of him,’’ said Joseph Alessandro, Puopolo’s godfather, of the Army veteran. “I saw this boy grow up. He loved me like his own father. I loved him dearly.”

MaryBeth Long, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, would not discuss details of the shooting or whether suspects had been arrested. Investigators, including a K-9 unit, scoured the home, garage, and automobiles for evidence during the night and into Wednesday morning.

After his discharge from the Army about a year ago, Puopolo had received counseling at the veterans hospital in Bedford, said Frank Zarba, who served in the Army and guided him to treatment.

“I showed him where to go to get help, and they took him in and helped him. He was at the hospital for a brief time,” Zarba said. “Joe was very nice and came from a caring family, who were concerned about him, and that’s why they reached out to get him help.”

Puopolo, who played hockey at Stoneham High School and Pope John XXIII High School in Everett, wanted to join the State Police and recently had taken an entrance exam, Alessandro said. After graduation, his godfather said, Puopolo joined the Army.

He was discharged as a private in June 2012 and spent time since then playing hockey, boxing, and working with his father in the family’s car-detailing business, Alessandro said.

“He was a good boy,’’ his godfather said. “This is so devastating. If you didn’t have a nickel, he’d give you a dollar. That’s the kind of person he was.”

Puopolo enlisted in the Army in January 2010 and served as an infantryman in Afghanistan from October 2010 to October 2011. His last unit was a battalion of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, stationed at Fort Polk, La., an Army spokeswoman said.

Puopolo had some regrets about leaving the military, Zarba said.

“He thought that maybe he’d have a better chance with the State Police if he had stayed in longer,” Zarba said. “For a soldier, to be killed not even in the line of duty, that’s just horrendous.”

Puopolo celebrated his birthday last week, Alessandro said.

“I gave him a beautiful chain with St. Michael on it, the patron saint of the Army,” Alessandro said. “He loved it.’’

In January 2011, while on leave from Afghanistan, Puopolo told the Wicked Local Dedham website that he enlisted to protect innocent civilians who could not help themselves.

“I’m not there for the violence,’’ he said. “I like helping people. I like helping the kids; they’re not too fortunate over there. You really don’t see the enemy until you are walking away. . . . If you go out more than a mile and a half, you get shot, or shot at.”

Puopolo, who said he grew up in Boston’s North End, told the website he was amazed that Afghan children could continue to play in the midst of war.

“We have so much,’’ he said. “The things we throw away here, those people consider gold. My New Year’s resolution is to come home, but I really want our country and other countries to figure out a way to stop all this war.”

During the dangers of a mission, Puopolo added, he would think of his family.

“They pray for me,” Puopolo said. “I’m not scared for me. I’m scared for the people who love me because I chose this. It’s not like it chose me.”