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2 found dead after gunshots heard in Hempfield

Investigators check the scene along Route 30, where they found the bodies of a woman in her 50s and a man in his 20s.

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Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011
 

Two people from the Pittsburgh area were found dead Wednesday inside a car that was in the parking lot of a popular Hempfield restaurant.

State police identified the victims as Matthew V. Russo, 21, and his mother, Mary K. Russo, 53, both of Van Wyck Avenue, Brentwood.

Trooper Steve Limani said employees of Red Lobster restaurant heard gunshots around 4:20 p.m. and went outside to investigate. Limani said the employees saw two people who appeared to be dead inside the victim's Chevrolet Cavalier, which was parked about 50 feet from the restaurant, located at the intersection of Slate Run Road and Route 30.

Both victims appeared to have sustained gunshot wounds, but which wounds were self-inflicted and which were inflicted by another person remains under investigation, according to the Westmoreland County Coroner's Office.

The victims were pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Coroner Joshua C. Zappone, and the cause and manner of the deaths remain under investigation.

"The victims appear to have been shot," Limani told reporters at the scene. He added that "there is no gunman on the loose" but stopped short of calling the shooting a murder-suicide.

Police said the preliminary investigation indicated both victims died of a gunshot wound. "No physical evidence was found that would indicate any other person was involved in the shooting," according to a police statement released late last night.

The handgun found inside the car was registered to Mary Russo, police said.

Limani said he did not know if the victims had been inside the restaurant, but it appears that they were not.

An autopsy by Cyril H. Wecht and Pathology Associates is scheduled this morning, the coroner's office said.

Mike Bernstein, director of media relations and communications for Red Lobster who was contacted at the chain's Orlando office, said that while the company doesn't "know any details about this incident, it appears to be a tragic situation. Our sympathies certainly go out to the family of these two people."

Bernstein said that "no one in our (Hempfield Township) restaurant knows who the two people are or anything about the circumstances of what or when this happened. The matter is in the hands ?of the proper authorities, and we are fully cooperating with them."

Although a portion of the parking lot was cordoned off while police investigated, it did not appear that the restaurant's operations were affected as patrons could be seen coming to and leaving the restaurant throughout the evening.

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