Washington Co. woman charged after shooting roommate in head

| Saturday, March 15, 2014, 8:09 a.m.

A Washington County woman said she accidentally shot one of her roommates in the head during an argument late Friday, state police said.

Louis E. Ruscello, 39, was in critical but stable condition Saturday in UPMC Presbyterian, state Trooper Douglas Rush said. Roommate Tracy J. Chechuck, 26, remained in the Washington County Correctional Facility on Saturday, charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

Rush said Chechuck, her fiance, Lowe M. Hawkins Jr., and Ruscello were drinking in an Avella bar on Friday before returning to the Cross Creek, Washington County, home they have shared since December.

There, Hawkins and Ruscello began to fight, with some pushing, shoving and yelling, Rush said. Chechuck got a .45-caliber pistol registered to Hawkins, Rush said. She briefly sat down in the living room with the gun, before entering the kitchen where Ruscello was pushing Hawkins against a stove, and Chechuck tried to intervene. She chambered a round in the gun, Rush said.

“For whatever reason, the accused decides to go get a gun to try to scare the victim,” Rush said. “She put it up to the victim's head, and it went off.”

Chechuck dialed 911 to summon police and medical help for Ruscello, Rush said. When police arrived, Chechuck and Hawkins insisted that the gun went off by accident, and she hadn't intended to shoot Ruscello.

Ruscello was flown to Pittsburgh for treatment. Rush said investigators were told that doctors don't believe that Ruscello suffered any brain damage, with a bullet lodged in the left side of his face.

Chechuck was placed in jail after failing to post $50,000 bond set by District Judge Jay Weller.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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