FAIRMONT — Police are now saying that a shooter, who killed four others in Monongalia County before taking his own life Monday, may have been motivated by jealousy over an ex-girlfriend.
Police say the shooter, Jody Lee Hunt, 39, killed himself after about a 12-hour manhunt Monday. State Police Lt. Michael Baylous and Monongalia County Sheriff Al Kisner on Tuesday revealed the motive for the rampage during a radio interview on West Virginia MetroNews.
A daylong manhunt throughout the region ended at about 7:45 p.m. Monday when State Police officials say they found Hunt dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
According to local media reports, police were called to an area on River Road in Everettville near the Mon-Marion County line on U.S. 19 in the late afternoon. At 8:04 p.m., the Mon County Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency’s Facebook page announced that the shooting suspect had been found and was deceased.
The declaration ended a 12-hour search with ripple effects throughout the region. Schools were on lockdown or Code Yellow in Mon and Marion counties. A child related in some way to Hunt was pulled out of a Marion County school, superintendent Gary Price confirmed Monday, but he would not say which school or identify the child in any way.
And five were dead. In addition to Hunt, police identified the victims as Sharon Kay Berkshire, 39, of Westover, Hunt’s ex-girlfriend; Michael David Frum, 28, of Maidsville, who may have been having a relationship with Berkshire; Jody Taylor, reportedly Hunt’s first cousin and former co-owner of Hunt’s towing business J&J Towing and Repair, according to state documents; and Doug Brady, owner of a towing company located less than a quarter mile from Hunt’s company.
“Mr. Hunt did know each of these victims, and we do have some key pieces of evidence that do point to him being the suspect, including his social media traffic as well,” Baylous said.
On Monday afternoon, screenshots of Facebook posts that appear to belong to Jody Hunt’s account circulated on social media sites. While no officials have confirmed the authenticity of the posts, they were widely disseminated and included names of victims before police officials released those details.
One post indicated that Hunt was angry at his cousin over a reported theft in the business and another the business practices of his rival Brady.
Another post suggested his actions came from problems he had in his previous relationship. Hunt claimed he had been cheated on by his former girlfriend.
“I poured out my heart to her only to be (manipulated) as to what I could give her,” the post reads. “Relationships are not a game. Love is not a game. One’s heart is not a game.”
Berkshire had filed two restraining orders in Mon County against Hunt. The first was Dec. 27, 2013, and terminated about two weeks later because there was “a wish to work on problems.”
A second restraining order Oct. 26 ended about two weeks later because Berkshire and Hunt were “living separate” and they had a property agreement that made the restraining order unnecessary.
Frum’s aunt, Ellen Shafer, of the Cheat Lake area, said she knew few details about her nephew’s death. She said Frum worked on detailing cars in Westover and did some construction work and other odd jobs.
“We were just saddened, and we’re living with the realization of his death and coping the best we can,” Shafer said.
Here is the timeline of events understood so far, compiled from local media reports: Calls to MECCA 911 in Mon County began at 7:42 a.m., dispatching units to Doug’s Towing in Westover; the next calls were from Sunset Beach Road in Cheat Lake at 8:28 a.m.; the third shooting was reported at a home on Sweet Pea Lane near Westover at 9:59 a.m.
That’s where Cassandra Taylor, mother of Jody Taylor, told WTAE, a Pittsburgh-based television station, she watched her son be killed right in front of her during Monday’s shootings.
Jody Taylor was Jody Hunt’s first cousin, she said, and Hunt was named after Taylor.
“That man stood over my son and (did) that. It was nothing for him to shoot that gun. It was just like he had no mercy. I mean, it was terrible. Now I’ve got to live with that,” Taylor said during an interview. “I saw it. Three of them (gunshots) went off until I could get to the door.”
Cassandra Taylor said she was inside her home and heard the gunshots, and then went outside to find a man standing over her son.
“I said, ‘Jody, are you OK, Jody?’, and I looked at him and said, ‘Sir, what are you doing?’, and he took off in his truck, didn’t look up at me or nothing,” said Taylor.
Taylor and Hunt were in business together, the mother told WTAE, and the two had a falling out.
“He had a grudge against my son, and my son had a grudge against him. Jody Hunt had to use a gun. He couldn’t come and talk like he should have,” she said.
Before 11:30 a.m. Monday, law enforcement reached out to the public through social media to be on the lookout for a 2011 black Ford F150 extended cab truck, which was later described by police officials as belonging to one of the shooting victims.
Berkshire’s Facebook profile is not public, but a picture that was released to the media is identical to one from a Nov. 7 post to her page that shows a truck matching the description with a caption that reads “new ride for this girl.”
By 4:30 p.m., the State Police again took to Facebook and released a picture of Hunt and a physical description of him, as well as the make and model of the car he was believed to have been driving.
And it was shortly after 5 p.m. when law enforcement officials staged at a playground near the Everettville community as they searched the surrounding area. Less than three hours later, Hunt’s body was found.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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