Show of love, support for Murrysville shooting victims

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 12:56 a.m.

Although still reeling from the loss of his mother, Dominic Canonico asked friends and family gathered at a candlelight vigil for Murrysville shooting victims Gina and Lynall Llewellyn to try to take some good away from the tragedy.

“There is no explanation for what happened. … but take this and change your life with it,” he said.

Canonico said he took heart in the gathering of about 50 people Wednesday evening at the Crooked Creek Horse Park in Manor, where the two women spent many hours riding and showing horses and volunteering.

“It shows there's still a lot of good in the world, compared to the evil that made this happen,” he said as he struggled to hold back tears.

Gina Llewellyn, 50, of Allegheny Township, was fatally shot Saturday and her daughter Lynall Llewellyn, 22, was wounded in a shooting outside the Cozy Inn bar and restaurant in Murrysville.

Friends said Wednesday Lynall Llewellyn has improved, enough to be moved from intensive care to a private room at Allegheny General Hospital earlier that day.

Police said Michael L. Lunsford Jr., 21, of Murrysville shot the two women and then himself at 7:25 p.m. Saturday after concocting a story to meet with his wife, Ashley McHugh, 22, of Murrysville. McHugh was not injured.

McHugh was visiting the Llewellyns at the time and they accompanied her to the meeting, police said. Police said they may never know why Lunsford, who carried a suicide note in his pocket, shot the Llewellyns.

Tracey McHugh, Ashley's mother, attended the vigil. She said her daughter and Lynall met years ago and became friends right away.

“They met here at the horse park and it's kind of a funny story because Lynall thought Ashley was trying to steal her horse,” McHugh said. “I'm not sure why, maybe she was leading it out of the barn or someone asked her to move it. But they hit it off that day.”

Sending well-wishes

Before the vigil got under way, the group was able to give Lynall their well-wishes via video chat. She was all smiles as she sat in her hospital bed with her best friend, Ashley McHugh, by her side.

Many in the group took comfort at Lynall's fighting spirit.

“I can guarantee you that this summer you will see her doing what she does every year,” Canonico said of his sister.

Gina Llewellyn, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis almost a decade ago, was remembered as a selfless person who took the time to make each person she met feel special.

“Gina was an unbelievable person; she made everyone feel important,” said family friend Nick Mitrakos of O'Hara, who helped organize the vigil.

The Rev. James Loew, of St. Gertrude Roman Catholic Church in Vandergrift, who offered a prayer to begin the vigil, said, even in death, Llewellyn would be a source of strength for all those who knew her.

“She was a woman whose family loved to come here and be under the stars. Now there is a star in your name,” he said. “May her smile shine upon us as our prayers lift toward her.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or

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