Unloaded Gun in a Defensive Situation


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Fred Fuller
June 19, 2005, 05:51 PM
http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-a1_5doublejun19,0,3775842.story?coll=all-newslocal-hed

Man kills wife, then is shot to death by son, 15, authorities say
Andrew Detwiler of East Rockhill had hospitalized himself briefly last week. Boy tried to protect his mother.
By Kirk Beldon Jackson
Of The Morning Call [Pennsylvania]

June 19, 2005

An East Rockhill Township man blasted his way into his home with a shotgun Saturday and killed his wife as she talked to a 911 operator then was shot to death by the couple's 15-year-old son, authorities said.

Andrew Detwiler, 44, of 30 Greenleaf Circle, shot his wife, Suzanne Detwiler, 40, about 10 a.m. at the family home after loading an empty shotgun he had wrested from the boy, said Bucks County District Attorney Diane Gibbons.

The father took the shotgun as the boy and his 17-year-old brother pointed unloaded shotguns at him in an attempt to scare him away from their mother. Detwiler was holding a knife to his wife's throat, Gibbons said.

The couple had begun arguing earlier that morning, police said.

Gibbons described Andrew Detwiler's shooting death as justifiable, saying the boys acted heroically.

''There's no question that he acted solely for the purpose of saving his mother's life,'' said Gibbons, who added that the 15-year-old would not be charged.

Police declined to release the names of the boys. Several neighbors, who said the family had moved to the neighborhood late last year, identified the boys as Corey Detwiler, 15, and A.J. Detwiler, 17. Their 21-year-old sister, whose name was not available, was away at college in the Boston area.

The boys will stay with relatives.

While on the phone with Suzanne Detwiler, dispatchers heard a boy later identified as the 15-year-old tell his father to get away from his mother, Gibbons said.

Suzanne Detwiler continued to describe what happened to the dispatcher. After her husband took the shotgun from her son, he went to the attached garage to load it. Suzanne Detwiler locked him in the garage.

Her husband first kicked, then shot his way into the house, Gibbons said, and Suzanne Detwiler tried to flee.

Detwiler shot his wife through the dining room window as she fled across a deck at the back of the house, Gibbons said. Suzanne Detwiler made her way down a stairwell, collapsing at its foot, the DA said.

Meanwhile, her younger son had gone to the garage to load the second shotgun. He came outside, again ordering his father away from his mother, according to Gibbons.

He then shot his father in the right side, firing again as his father picked up his shotgun and began to move away. The second shot hit his father in the back, Gibbons said.

Andrew Detwiler was found lying about five feet outside a fence surrounding the family property, Gibbons said.

''There were three shots,'' said neighbor John Maurer, who was sitting outside on his deck when the shooting occurred. ''One, then five minutes later there were two more.''

Gibbons described the scene as one of the most horrific she had seen.

''They are suffering in a way I have rarely seen,'' Gibbons said of the boys. ''A 15-year-old boy was forced to shoot his father the day before Father's Day. And now they're alone. And they know they're alone.''

Gibbons and Pennridge Regional Police said the couple had no history of problems until last Sunday. On that day, Detwiler committed himself to the behavioral health services unit at Grand View Hospital in Sellersville after police found him sitting in a car inside his garage with the motor running.

Gibbons said police have not determined why he was in the vehicle. He was an ironworker who was unemployed because of an injury.

While her husband was in the hospital, Suzanne Detwiler asked an Upper Makefield police officer friendly with the family to remove a handgun, two rifles and two shotguns from the home, Gibbons said.

Gibbons described hunting as a Detwiler family pastime.

Detwiler released himself from the hospital Wednesday and asked the officer for his guns, saying he wanted to sell them, Gibbons said. The officer refused, she said.

The shooting surprised and stunned neighbors of the ranch-style home, which sits on a quiet, tree-lined street.

''You wonder what the issues were that caused their dad to be that out-of-control,'' said Sue Martin, 47, who lives on nearby Bryant Drive.

Both boys are wrestlers, the older one a standout at Pennridge High School and formerly a member of the Souderton Area High School team. He placed seventh in the state in the 145-pound division of this year's Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAA wrestling championships.

Suzanne Detwiler testified Thursday in the trial of former Souderton High School wrestling coach Michael Salone, who was acquitted Friday of bullying and abusing team members.

Police said they don't believe that the trial had anything to do with Saturday's violence.

Last Sunday, someone serving a subpoena to Andrew Detwiler to testify at the trial heard a motor vehicle engine running in the garage. That's when police were first called to the home.

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Fumbler
June 21, 2005, 01:39 AM
Crazy.

Poor boys. :(

pauli
June 21, 2005, 12:16 PM
Police declined to release the names of the boys. Several neighbors, who said the family had moved to the neighborhood late last year, identified the boys as Corey Detwiler, 15, and A.J. Detwiler, 17. Their 21-year-old sister, whose name was not available, was away at college in the Boston area.

three cheers for responsible journalism.

first, some vague abuse scandal. second, dad tries to kill himself. third, dad kills mom after overpowering the boys. fourth, boys are forced to kill dad. and then the nitwit reporter puts their names in the paper.

as the gamers say... "gg."

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