PETERSBURG (AP) – Authorities say a central Pennsylvania father shot and killed his young son and injured his estranged wife before killing himself.
State police in Huntingdon County were called to a home in a rural area near Petersburg about 9 a.m. Saturday after reports of gunfire.
District Attorney George Zanic said Kenneth Ayers, 52, had gone to his mother’s home to exchange custody with his estranged wife. He was under a protection-from-abuse order barring contact with her but was allowed to go to his mother’s Barree Township home Saturdays to visit his son.
But at the home, he got into a “physical altercation” with his estranged wife and shot her in the legs and right arm, then grabbed 2-year-old Michael Ayers and shot him to death, police said.
Kenneth Ayers then placed the child’s body in the back of his vehicle, but the wounded woman retrieved the body from the vehicle, and he then shot her again in the face, police said. She was taken to Altoona Regional Hospital, where officials said she was expected to survive.
Ayers then fired a shot at his mother but missed and fled the scene, police said. The suspect’s body was found several hours later in his parked truck in a wooded area off Route 550 in Warriors Mark Township. Investigators said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“Words can’t describe the scene … heartbreaking,” Zanic told The (Altoona) Mirror outside the home.
Cpl. Daniel Sneath said the investigation will continue, and police will try to determine why the crime occurred and also why Ayers was carrying a gun despite the protection order. Police also will seek an autopsy by the county coroner to determine whether he was under the influence drugs or alcohol.