PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An elderly man is in police custody after his wife was found shot to death in a Bloomfield home Thursday evening.
Police were first called to the 4600-block of Rosina Way around 8:25 p.m.
KDKA’s Marty Griffin Reports:
According to police, 79-year-old Catherine Willet was found lying on the floor in an upstairs bedroom with a gunshot to the back of the head. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her husband Phillip Willet, also 79, has been taken into custody.
“From what we understand at this point, we believe her husband, who is also up in age, shot her in the head, then attempted to commit suicide but was unsuccessful,” said Lt. Kevin Kraus, of Pittsburgh Police.
Police are calling it an attempted murder-suicide.
“Very surreal,” said neighbor Mike Lingdon. “It’s unbelievable. It really really is. And it’s a shame.”
Police say the gun malfunctioned and officers found it that way when they arrived at the scene.
Phillip Willet has been charged with criminal homicide.
Watch Heather Abraham’s report:
Police say Catherine Willet’s two sisters were also at the home at the time of the shooting.
According to court papers, Phillip Willet was upstairs, where he had been bed-ridden for two days after being diagnosed with cancer. One of the sisters told police that Catherine Willet went to check on her husband after hearing some banging.
The couple then began arguing and Catherine Willet could be heard saying, “Don’t do that … why are you doing this? … I love you … Please Phil, I love you.”
The sisters told police that Phil then said, “I am in so much pain … I don’t want to live anymore.”
One sister says she rushed upstairs and watched as Catherine Willet backed up and her husband fired a single shot as he sat on the bed. Catherine Willet suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head.
Phillip Willet then turned the gun on himself, but was unsuccessful.
Steve Toprani, the former Washington County District Attorney, says Pennsylvania has no mercy killing law. The district attorney here will have to explore pursuing charges, but it’s not easy.
“Pennsylvania law does not permit the killing of others,” said Toprani. “A lot of families across this country, elderly people who are making very tough decisions in the face of crippling and potentially terminal illness, and it seems more and more in this day, we see these type of cases reported. It’s something that society has to grapple with.”
Willet was taken from the scene in an ambulance. He was too sick to be questioned and taken directly to UPMC Mercy Hospital where he is described as unconscious and terminally ill.
KDKA’s Kym Gable Reports:
Neighbors are in shock.
“Oh my God, I feel so bad,” said Pat. Kuhn. “I’m a nervous wreck. I just heard it and I looked out the door to see what was going on. I feel so terrible.”
Mayor Bill Peduto has issued this statement following Thursday night’s shootings in Knoxville and Bloomfield: “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of tonight’s tragic shootings in our city. I have been in constant contact throughout the evening with Public Safety Director Huss. We have committed all resources toward holding the actors accountable and stopping this cycle of violence that is plaguing our community.”