West Virginia shooting victim had sought court protection from gunman

West Virginia shooting victim had sought court protection from gunman
Doug's Towing in Westover, W.Va., is surrounded by police tape Monday after its owner was fatally shot by a rival who also killed three other people, authorities said. (Ben Queen / Associated Press)

One of the victims of a two-hour shooting rampage in northern West Virginia on Monday had twice sought a restraining order against the suspect, 39-year-old Jody Lee Hunt.

Police believe Hunt fatally shot four people at three locations Monday morning, sending local law enforcement officials on an all-day manhunt before he was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

One of the victims, Sharon Kay Berkshire, 39, had filed for a protective order against Hunt that expired in late November and had obtained another in December 2013, according to officials at the Monongalia County Circuit Court.
Local and state police launched a manhunt after the victims were discovered, all within a couple of hours. Hunt was found Monday evening in a wooded area several miles from the crime scenes with a gunshot wound to the head, officials with the Monongalia County Sheriff's Department said Monday night. The Associated Press reported he was found inside his truck.

Law enforcement officials said the shootings appeared to be targeted.

"These weren't random acts of violence," Lt. Michael Baylous told reporters Tuesday morning. "Mr. Hunt did know each of these victims." Later Tuesday police told a radio station that the other victims were two men Berkshire was having relationships with and the owner of a rival tow truck firm, the AP reported.
Baylous said police had several "key pieces of evidence," that suggested Hunt was the killer, including social media posts attributed to him.
Sheriff's officials confirmed they were looking at one Facebook post in which Hunt describes a betrayal by "the love of my life" and seems to be bent on revenge.

"I'm deeply hurt by the events that lead up to this day!" the post says. "This was not a plan but a struggle to see that those who strives to hurt me received their fair pay of hurt like I received."

"I except my actions were wrong but in my eyes just," the post continues, closing with, "Please take care of my dogs!"

According Jim Smith of the county's Emergency Management Agency, dispatchers received a call about 7:42 a.m. from an employee at a tow truck company in Westover, W.Va., who reported hearing a loud bang and thought the owner, Doug Brady, had fallen while cleaning one of the vehicles.

Paramedics discovered he had been shot and employees called about 40 minutes later to report that security tape at the business showed the shooting, Smith said. Brady later died.

According to records from the West Virginia secretary of state's office, Hunt ran a competing business called J&J Towing and Repair, just a couple of blocks from Brady's shop.

At 8:28 a.m., police received a call that Berkshire and another victim, 28-year-old Michael Frum, had been found with gunshot wounds at a home near Cheat Lake in Morgantown.

Just before 10 a.m., the final call came reporting shots fired at a home on Sweet Pea Lane. The victim, later identified as Jody Taylor, was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Hunt's criminal history suggests a violent past. In 1999, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for felony kidnapping and use of a firearm, Virginia criminal records show.

During their search, police said Hunt was armed and dangerous and was believed to be driving a black pickup truck with a blacked-out license plate and a cover over the bed. Several schools in Monongalia County were placed on lockdown as a precaution, Westover police Sgt. Matthew Starsick said, but none of the schools were believed to be targets or related to the deaths in any way.

Times staff writer Lauren Raab contributed to this report.

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