Police investigating Lawrence County murder-suicide

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Pennsylvania State Police are investigating the circumstances involving a Lawrence County man who fatally shot his stepfather, threatened his mother with the gun, then shot himself in the head Friday.

The murder-suicide happened at a home in the 4300 block of Ellwood Road in New Castle around 10:30 p.m. Friday.

Justin E. Burnett, 29, went to the upstairs bedroom of his stepfather Douglas C. Weingartner, 60, and shot him four times with a .40-caliber handgun, police said. Then, he went to the downstairs living room and pointed the handgun at his mother Jo Ellen Weingartner before shooting himself in the head in front of her, Lt. Eric Hermick said Saturday.

An intoxicated Mr. Burnett had called his mother about 10 p.m. Friday saying he needed a ride home. His car had an interlock device that prevented him from driving it when he had been drinking, police said.

Mr. Burnett and Mr. Weingartner hadn't had a good relationship since the late 1990s, Mrs. Weingartner told police.

"She said her husband was upset she had to be burdened with this problematic child again and he just went to bed," Lt. Hermick said.

When Mrs. Weingartner went to pick up her son in Ellwood City, he was intoxicated and she told him she didn't want to discuss it with him. Mr. Burnett became angry and went to his room when they returned to the house, police said.

Shortly after that, Mrs. Weingartner heard loud banging, which she thought was her son banging on the bedroom door.

"Then he comes downstairs with a gun in his hand and points it at her," Lt. Hermick said. "She pleads with him to put the gun down. And he says, 'I killed Doug' and then puts the gun to his head and shoots himself."

She called 911 and tried to administer aid to her son, but there was nothing she could do.

Both men were dead at the scene, the Lawrence County Coroner's office reported.

Lt. Hermick said Mrs. Weingartner was "visibly traumatized" when police spoke with her Friday night.

Authorities await the autopsy results.

First Published July 12, 2014 8:22 AM


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