Four people were shot and killed at a car wash in Melcroft in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The suspect, who was named as Timothy O’Brien Smith, is accused of using a semi-automatic rifle and other weapons to commit the mass shooting while wearing a ballistic vest with the armor removed.
The victims were named as William Scott Porterfield, 27; Chelsie Lou Cline, 25; Courtney Sue Snyder, 23; and Seth William Cline, 21. Seth Cline and Chelsie Cline are siblings, according to posts on Facebook. One female survived the attack after she hid in a car. Smith is still alive but is on life support, and authorities don’t think he will make it. Authorities initially said five people had died, but that count included the suspect, who is clinging to life.
It was “a horrible and senseless event,” authorities said during a news conference, and they said it unfolded this way: At 2:52 a.m., the Pennsylvania state police were notified of a shooting in Melcroft at a self-serve car wash. The troopers discovered four deceased victims who were apparently shot with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm handgun. The suspect also had a 308 rifle. He was wearing body armor with the plates removed and had several magazines for the weapons.
Porterfield and Chelsie Cline arrived in a silver Dodge and exited the vehicle for unknown reasons. They proceeded to the side of the car wash, where they were shot and killed. Additional victims arrived at the same time in a pickup truck. The driver, Courtney Sue Snyder and Seth William Cline, were shot and killed in the vehicle as it was in a stopped position, authorities said. An adult female passenger in the rear of the pickup truck took cover in it and survived the shooting with only minor injuries from shattered glass.
The suspect, Timothy O’Brien Smith, had arrived at the scene in his red pickup truck and parked on the side of the car wash where Porterfield and Chelsie Cline were killed, authorities alleged. They say that Smith sustained a gunshot wound to his head, and he is not expected to survive. It’s possible the wound to Smith was self-inflicted, but that has not been determined for sure.
It’s not clear whether Smith followed the victims to the car wash, authorities said.
WPXI-TV reported that the suspect was a man who used to date a victim, and who “opened fire on the group.” 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!!!” However, authorities said the relationship between Timothy Smith and the victims was still under investigation.
The names of the Clines came out before the press conference. Erin Clarke, of WPXI-TV, reported that “we spoke with a woman who says her sister, Chelsie Cline and her brother Seth were two of the victims. She told us that the shooter was a man who Chelsie had previously dated.” Authorities had not yet confirmed the information about a prior relationship between Tim Smith and Chelsie Cline, however.
Friends were already posting tributes to both Chelsie and Seth Cline.
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.
Pennsylvania State police confirmed previously that five people had died after the early Sunday mass shooting with a sixth person rushed to the hospital, with all victims in their early 20s or 30s. However, it later turned out that there were only four victims, one wounded suspect, and the sixth person, the woman who hid in the truck, was not shot. The call came in just before 3 a.m. on January 28, 2018.
According to Action News 4 in Pittsburgh, the shooting happened in the 1300 block of Indian Creek Valley Road. The location of the shooting was given as Ed’s Car Wash.
Local news reporters released some video and photos from the scene.
Lori Houy, of WPXI-TV, wrote on Twitter, “We’re on the scene of a mass shooting in the small town of Melcroft, Fayette County. State Police confirm multiple people have been shot to death at a car wash. And the suspect may be one of them.” It wasn’t yet clear why so many people would be at a car wash that early in the morning.
Melcroft is a tiny unincorporated community in Pennsylvania. It’s located about an hour from Pittsburgh. It was still dark out in a photo taken at the scene by a neighbor. Police said there is no continuing threat to the community, according to WPXI-TV.
Melcroft is a small town where everyone knows everyone else, so people took to social media seeking information on the victims and expressing shock. “I seen a couple body bags laying out at the car wash,” wrote one woman on Facebook.
This post will be updated as more is learned about the mass shooting.