Murrysville shooter had a suicide note and rifle, police say
By Renatta Signorini and Daveen Rae Kurutz
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013, 12:09 p.m.
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Joe Llewellyn cradled his wife as she lay mortally wounded from a gunshot in a Murrysville parking lot, their injured daughter nearby, police said on Monday.
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. She was not injured.
Lunsford carried a suicide note in his pocket. Police Chief Tom Seefeld would only say it named no other targets.
“It was not listed in that note that he intended to cause (his wife) harm,” Seefeld said during a news conference. “We can try to speculate. We can't get into the mind of a shooter.”
Gina M. Llewellyn, 50, of Route 356, Allegheny Township was pronounced dead at the scene of what police called a domestic dispute, according to the Westmoreland County coroner. Her daughter, Lynall Llewellyn, 22, remained in critical condition on Monday in Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh.
Lunsford called his wife on Saturday and said her dog had been hit by a car. He asked her to meet him at East Suburban Animal Hospital in the municipality, Seefeld said.
McHugh, who was visiting the Llewellyns, traveled with four members of the family in a sport utility vehicle to meet Lunsford.
McHugh “could not see or locate her dog” in his pickup truck, which was parked in the lot of the Cozy Inn, just off of Route 22, Seefeld said.
A “short verbal confrontation took place” and Gina Llewellyn and her daughter got out of their vehicle.
“At that point, Lunsford had removed a rifle from the truck, walked to the rear of the truck and ended up shooting” the Llewellyns and then himself, Seefeld said.
“It was an opportunity on his part to draw Ashley to him,” Seefeld said. “I don't know at this time if, in fact, he knew he was bringing Ashley down. I don't know if we'll ever know that.”
Police are working to determine who owned the firearm. The bar and the veterinary hospital were closed at the time of the shooting.
Murrysville is typically a peaceful community, Seefeld said. Police responded to 21 violent crimes — defined as aggravated assault, rape, murder or burglary — between 2007 and 2011.
“It was an isolated incident,” Seefeld said after the news conference. “We're not in the situation where we have someone running around shooting.”
Since 2010, Murrysville police have responded to 470 domestic disputes, Seefeld said.
A few weeks ago, McHugh and Lunsford apparently had a dispute and he punched her, Seefeld said. Police were not called.
Domestic violence is underreported, said Shirl Regan, president and CEO of the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. Nationwide statistics show that one in three people have experienced abuse in a relationship, Regan said.
“Many times, women try to work the problem out on their own, because they're embarrassed or afraid about what might happen,” she said.
McHugh and Lunsford married in October and had lived with McHugh's parents on School Road South for the past couple months, Seefeld said.
Lunsford is from Marlette, Mich., and served in the Army as a military policeman from November 2009 to June, when he was discharged, according to an Army spokesman. Lunsford served at bases in Missouri and New York. Police did not know how McHugh met Lunsford.
A family member at the residence who didn't wish to be identified said Lunsford was not a violent person and got along well with the family.
Police, however, characterized the couple's short marriage as “rocky.”
“We're putting together that perhaps he was a little obsessive and controlling with Ashley,” Seefeld said.
Lunsford's family members could not be reached. One told the coroner's office that arrangements would be handled by Roth-Muir Funeral Home in Romeo, Mich.
Funeral arrangements for Gina Llewellyn were being handled by Giunta-Bertucci Funeral Home in Arnold.
Llewellyn, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early 2000s, was remembered as a horse lover who always helped others.
Sandy Cullen of Salem Township said Llewellyn and her daughter routinely visited Crooked Creek Horse Park in Armstrong County and helped during the Fort Armstrong Championship Rodeo.
Cullen is president of the Fort Armstrong Horsemen's Association, which runs the rodeo.
Llewellyn volunteered to help with parking during the rodeo, according to Sue Mangus of Armstrong County, who knew Llewellyn through the horse park.
“Everything she did, she did with a smile on her face,” Mangus said.
Llewellyn was a member of the Kiski Valley Youth Commission, helping wayward juveniles get their criminal records expunged, said Lee Rupert, an associate pastor at North Apollo Church of God who serves on the commission.
Rupert said he had been trying to get out of the commission, but Llewellyn wouldn't let him.
“She had a heart for helping people,” Rupert said. “I'm sure there's a lot of young people who she helped.”
Staff writer Paul Peirce contributed to this report. Renatta Signorini and Daveen Rae Kurutz are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Signorini can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Kurutz can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or email@example.com.
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