Police say man shot estranged wife 25 times, then killed himself in Lawrenceville
May 10, 2013 9:30 PM
Police are on the scene of an alleged homicide-suicide on Carlton Street in Lawrenceville.
By Molly Born, Amy McConnell Schaarsmith and Lexi Belculfine Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Stephanie Byrd had feared for years that her husband, Bruce Anthony Byrd, would make good on his threat in 2005 to kill her.
On Friday afternoon, he did just that, shooting her repeatedly in the face, neck and chest as she lay on the floor of his mother's home in the 4600 block of Carlton Street in Lawrenceville, police said. Then, he shot himself. Both died at the scene.
Ms. Byrd's worries had intensified after she left him March 28, prompting verbal abuse from her husband that she found so frightening she obtained a restraining order, according to Pittsburgh police and documents at Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
Two dead in apparent homicide-suicide in Lawrenceville
A woman was shot to death by her estranged husband who then killed himself inside a house in the 4600 block of Carlton Street in Lawrenceville. Police believe between at least 30 shots were fired. (Video by Darrell Sapp/Jon Silver; 5/10/2013)
"He is begging me to come home and I feel unsafe seeing him or being in the house with him," Ms. Byrd wrote in her application for a protection-from-abuse order on April 4. "I do not want to stay in our marital home, I just want to safely get my belongings, dogs and be safe at work and in my new place of residence. I also want others at my work and residence to be safe from him."
Ms. Byrd, 44, worked as a registered nurse at UPMC Shadyside and was staying with her mother in Wexford. Mr. Byrd, 46, still lived in the couple's home, which also was on Carlton, next door to his mother's house.
Her husband had threatened her before, showing up at her place of employment in 2005 and saying he would kill her, Ms. Byrd added in the application for the order. As a result, Mr. Byrd was charged with the misdemeanors of simple assault, making terroristic threats, unlawful restraint with serious bodily injuries and the felony of carrying a firearm without a license, according to Allegheny County court records. He later pleaded guilty to simple assault and was placed on two years of probation, documents show.
The court granted Ms. Byrd the restraining order, but she agreed to drop it on April 18, after her husband promised the court that he would stay away when she came to collect her things, according to court records.
On Friday, however, he broke that promise.
Just after noon, Ms. Byrd entered her mother-in-law's home to collect some belongings and discovered her husband there, according to Pittsburgh police.
Police believe Ms. Byrd had made arrangements to pick up the items with the understanding that her estranged husband would not be there.
Her mother-in-law was at work at the time, police said.
Police said Mr. Byrd attacked his wife almost immediately after she entered the home, as the friend who had given her a ride there watched in horror from the car and then ran across the street for help.
"It was within minutes after she entered, she came to the window and was pounding on the window for help," said Pittsburgh police major-crimes unit Cmdr. Kevin Kraus, based on an account from Ms. Byrd's friend.
Mr. Byrd shot his wife more than two dozen times in the face, neck and chest, standing over her prone body, Cmdr. Kraus said. He then killed himself, according to police, who arrived about 12:15 p.m. after a neighbor reported hearing shots fired.
The nature of the call prompted police to set up a perimeter using special weapons and tactics officers, Zone 2 Cmdr. Eric Holmes said.
When they entered the home, police found both bodies on the living room floor, with Mr. Byrd lying on top of his wife, Cmdr. Kraus said.
Neighbors said the couple, who originally were from the North Hills, had lived on the street for about 20 years. Several said Friday's events weren't surprising, and that it was evident the Byrds had marital problems.
About 10 days ago, neighbors said, police escorted the woman to the home, possibly to collect her belongings.
When one neighbor said he heard gunshots and saw the woman's friend run across the street to get help, he immediately knew what had happened.
"I said, 'Oh my God. He's killing Stephanie. Dad, call 911,' " the neighbor said.
The same neighbor, who asked not to be named, said the couple had been sweethearts since middle or high school. They liked going to see movies and riding motorcycles together, he said.
Mr. Byrd had been a licensed practical nurse since October 1995, according to state licensing records.
Court records indicate Mr. Byrd was scheduled to go to trial Monday in Allegheny Common Pleas Court on a felony firearms violation and a misdemeanor charge of making a false statement.
Autopsies of both bodies are scheduled for today, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.