West Virginia shooting rampage sparked by jealousy, business rivalry

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 02, 2014 4:24 PM

By Kara Van Pelt

BECKLEY, W. Va. (Reuters) - The West Virginia owner of a tow truck company with personal and professional grudges killed his ex-girlfriend and two men she had been romantically linked with, as well as the owner of a rival towing firm, police said on Tuesday.

The gunman, Jody Lee Hunt, 39, died on Monday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a 12-hour manhunt, State Police spokesman Lieutenant Michael Baylous and Monongalia County Sheriff Kenneth Kisner said during a radio interview with West Virginia MetroNews.

Kisner and Baylous said they believe Hunt was driven by jealous rage to kill his ex-girlfriend, Sharon Kay Berkshire, 39, and two men who were involved with her before turning the gun on himself.

"There is a kind of a triangle here that comes back to Ms. Berkshire," Kisner said.

The shooting rampage began on Monday morning when Hunt, owner of J&J Towing in Westover, shot dead Doug Brady, 45, the owner of Doug's Towing. Hunt had criticized Brady for allegedly failing to follow procedures set forth by the Monongalia County Commission and illegally obtaining business, the officers said.

Surveillance cameras at Doug's Towing identified a black 2011 Ford F-150 pickup, temporarily registered to Hunt, leaving the scene.

Hunt then drove to Cheat Lake where Berkshire and her boyfriend, Michael Frum, 28, were shot.

Police believe Hunt then drove to the home of his cousin, Jody Taylor, 35, who was previously involved with Berkshire, and shot him, Baylous and Kisner said.

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The sheriff told Reuters that Hunt was armed with a 9mm handgun with a shoulder stock.

Local media reported that Hunt posted on his Facebook page that he was "deeply hurt" by the events that led up to Monday's killing spree.

"I did not chose to have the love of my life to go behind my back and sleep with several guys as she came home to lay her head on my shoulder to say goodnight I love you," he wrote.

The Facebook page had been stripped of most content on Tuesday.

(Additional reporting and writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Eric Walsh)