Chelsie Cline was identified as one of the four victims of the Melcroft, Pennsylvania mass shooting, and family members of the victims say the young mother was targeted at a car wash by a “jealous boyfriend.”
Authorities named the shooter as Timothy O’Brien Smith, and they accuse the 28-year-old country club cook of gunning down Chelsie and three others at a self-service car wash in the small community about an hour from Pittsburgh. The shootings unfolded just before 3 a.m. on Sunday, January 28, 2018.
Smith was initially hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his head that may be self-inflicted, authorities said, and a fifth victim escaped his wrath by hiding in the back of a pickup truck, sustaining only minor injuries from glass. The other victims who died have been identified as Cortney Snyder, 23; Seth Cline, 21; and William Porterfield, 29. Chelsie Cline was 25. Smith has now died from his wounds.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Chelsie Cline Recently Broke Up With the Shooter, Who Became Obsessive, Reports Allege
Authorities have not yet revealed the motive, nor have they detailed how Smith knew the victims. However, family members of the victims have said that the shooting was the result of a domestic dispute, according to WPXI-TV. The news station reports that Chelsie Cline’s sister said the shooter is a man that Chelsie previously dated. That man was later identified as Tim Smith.
Other news accounts also identify Smith as a “jealous boyfriend.” Jenna Porterfield, the pregnant wife of victim William Porterfield, told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that she and her husband were having marital problems, and she said that she has learned “her husband had spent the past two days with Chelsie Cline who had ended her relationship with Smith a couple of days earlier.”
On social media, others who knew the victims also alleged that the suspect was an ex boyfriend. A woman wrote on Facebook: “It’s my cousins….and those who was MURDERED did nothing wrong!! The lunatic who chased them down shot them all, then his self! He was a jealous X of one of his victims….that’s what happened!!!”
Four people died at the scene and a fifth person, the suspect, was taken to a local hospital. The sixth person at the scene only suffered minor injuries from broken glass after hiding in the back of the truck, police said.
2. Chelsie Studied Nursing & The Heavily Armed Smith Was Carrying a Semi-Automatic Rifle
Chelsie wrote on Facebook that she had worked at St. Anne Home, studied Nursing at Westmoreland County Community College, went to Connellsville Area Career and Technical Center, lived in Ruffs Dale, Pennsylvania, and was from White, Pennsylvania
Authorities described a horrific scene. Two victims were located inside a pickup truck and “two others were found outside in the car wash’s parking lot,” reports 5 News Online, adding that authorities towed three vehicles from the scene. Chelsie Cline was one of the victims found outside, according to authorities.
On Facebook, Tim Smith wrote that he worked as a cook at Ligonier Country Club and defined himself as “former Slave at Out of The Fire Cafe.” He also indicated that he studied photography at Westmoreland County Community College.
The suspect was heavily armed when he arrived at the car wash, although authorities say they aren’t clear whether he followed the victims to it. Police say Smith was armed with an AR-15 .223 semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm handgun. Smith was wearing a ballistic vest, but the vest did not have body armor plates in it, police said. A neighbor described hearing about 30 gunshots.
Police believe Smith arrived at the car wash and parked on the side of the building before the other four victims came to the same location in two separate vehicles. Police said he had several magazines for both guns.
According to police, Chelsie Cline and William Porterfield arrived at the self-service car wash and exited their vehicle and went to the side of the car wash. They were then shot and killed, police said.
The other two victims, Seth Cline and Cortney Snyder, got to the scene at the same time in a pickup truck. Snyder, who was driving the truck, and Cline were shot in the vehicle while it was stopped. The female passenger who escaped was in the rear of the cab and was able to take cover and survive. Police said they believe the gunman did not know she was there.
The woman who lived was named as Sammi Snyder by a wife of one of the victims.
The shooting occurred about 2:45 a.m. on Route 711, also known as Indian Creek Valley Road, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The shooting occurred at Ed’s Car Wash, across from G&D Market and beside Ridgeline Heating and Cooling, the newspaper reports.
Police said there is no outstanding threat to the Fayette County community.
3. Chelsie Cline Was a Mother Whose Friends Posted Tributes in Her Memory
Chelsie Cline filled her Facebook page with photos of herself with a young child. The wife of one of the victims told the local news media that both Chelsie Cline and Cortney Snyder were mothers. “R.I.P Chelsie Cline and Seth Cline this is just devastating ill always miss you Chels till we meet again rest in paradise angel,” wrote one friend on Facebook.
Although her photos are heartwarming, some of Chelsie’s Facebook posts are chilling in retrospect. On January 22, Chelsie wrote on Facebook, “with my luck, I’ll probably die the day after I finally get my sh*t together.” Mostly, she posted photos with the child and quotes about relationships and life.
Chelsie had some struggles in her life, including brushes with the law, according to Pennsylvania court records. However, she posted on Facebook that she had worked hard to rebuild her life. She posted many laments about relationships in January, especially, such as “If you knew how hard it was and how long it took to rebuild my little universe of peace and happiness then you would understand why I’m so picky about who I allow in my life.”
4. Smith Allegedly Used to Leave Beer on Chelsie Cline’s Car & Wrote Eerie Comments on Her Facebook Page
Tim Smith is from Ligonier, Pennsylvania, according to KDKA-TV. He was shot in the head at the scene, according to police. He remains hospitalized and is not expected to survive, according to police. It is a possibility that the gunshot wound was self-inflicted, but police have not confirmed that yet.
Little information has been released about Smith so far. However, family members of the victims describe Tim Smith as an obsessive personality who was fixated on Chelsie Cline.
The sister of one of the victims said Smith “would leave stuff” on her sister’s car, including a case of beer, WPXI-TV reports.
“She’d get done with work and she’d come out and there would be a case of beer on her hood… Now I could see it. He has a very obsessive personality,” the sister told the news station. Sierra Kolarik, Chelsie Cline’s half-sister told the Tribune-Review that Tim Smith “developed an obsession over” Chelsie.
Tim Smith was Facebook friends with Chelsie Cline, and he left a chilling Facebook message on her page on January 24. “After this week, I rlly need to get taken out…on a date or by a sniper either one is fine w me at this point,” Chelsie wrote.
Tim Smith responded: “I could do both.”
“Guys nowadays don’t want girlfriends, just want a girl who acts like a girlfriend and is loyal to them while they mess with other females,” Chelsie wrote on Facebook on January 15.
“Says you,” responded Smith.
Trooper Robert Broadwater told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that there is no indication that the shooting was the result of a drug deal gone bad, but he did not comment on reports that the shooting was domestic violence-related.
“There is no indication of drug activity at this point. But we have no motive, no reason,” Broadwater told the newspaper.
“We’re not sure exactly what occurred,” Broadwater told the Tribune-Review. “Trying to investigate why this happened and how it happened.”
5. Chelsie’s Brother, Seth, Also Died in the Rampage
Melcroft is an unincorporated community in Saltlick Township in Fayette County. Saltlick Township, made of up of several small communities, is home to only about 3,400 people and is located about 50 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. It’s the kind of tight-knit rural town where everyone knows everyone else.
The shootings devastated friends and family members, and the victims included two members of the same family. Chelsie Cline’s brother, Seth Cline, was also killed in the shooting, WPXI-TV reports.
Victim Cortney Snyder’s friends have created a GoFundMe site to help her young son. “Cortney Snyder was shot and killed, Sunday, January 28th. The only thing she did was give someone a ride to their car,” the page says. “I’ve known this family my entire life. She leaves behind her 4 year old little boy, who was the love of her life. How do you tell this little boy that mommy isn’t coming home? The entire family is understandably devastated. They don’t have the money for this. How do you bury your 23 year old daughter? Please donate if you can and pray for Cindy, Rick and little Chase.”
Cortney had previously survived being shot while spotting deer.
Jenna Porterfield, of Connellsville, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette her husband, William Scott Porterfield, 29, was indeed among the victims.
Jenna Porterfield shared a photo from their wedding day on Facebook: