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A Kenmore Mercy Hospital nurse who was shot to death last month in her Wheatfield home did not commit suicide as originally thought, because the gun was fired from too far away to indicate a suicide, according to the investigating coroner.

The death of Linda Tomaino was a homicide, Niagara County Coroner Alfred Flessel ruled Thursday, based on several tests that included determining the distance from which the bullet was fired into her head.

"The distance was probably greater than what you would see in a self-inflicted wound," Flessel said. "The angle and distance all weighed heavily.

"We studied the autopsy, the testing of the weapon, location of the body. The location of the gun, the way she may have been holding it, where it was found, gunpowder residue, burn marks, tissue damage -- all of these things we considered in determining whether it was a homicide or suicide."

Mrs. Tomaino, 37, of Town Line Road, was found dead in her bed about 9 p.m. Nov. 18, according to Chief Investigator John W. Cole of the Niagara County Sheriff's Department. Her husband, John, 42, found the body. Cole said he and Investigator Calvin Rhoney became suspicious about 48 hours into the investigation. They did not elaborate.

"Investigators have questioned a number of people, and the investigation is continuing," the department said in a statement.

Although it "initially appeared to be a suicide," the department said, officials "concluded that the fatal wound was not self-inflicted."

Mrs. Tomaino's husband was among those questioned about the death, according to Flessel and Assistant District Attorney Ronald J. Winter.

"There's an investigation going on," Tomaino said in death of nurse
from his home Thursday night. "That's all I can tell you."

Cole declined to comment on the caliber and owner of the gun now held as evidence.

Mrs. Tomaino, supervisor of the emergency room at Kenmore Mercy, was well-liked at the hospital, where she had worked as a certified emergency nurse since 1987.

Co-workers said they had doubted all along that the death was a suicide, because Mrs. Tomaino loved life too much and was dedicated to her two elementary school children.

A native of Elmira, the former Linda L. Comfort moved to Lockport in 1974 and to Wheatfield in 1978. She had worked as a registered nurse at Lockport Memorial Hospital and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

She was a member of the emergency medical services team and was an instructor in advanced cardiac life support.

Mrs. Tomaino was a member of the Niagara Swimming Club and a Sunday school teacher at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in North Tonawanda.

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