The live-in girlfriend of the man who fatally shot three people in Frankstown Township in December has been charged with making a straw purchase of a handgun used in the killing spree.
State police charged Brenda E. Shultz, 52, of 107 Lower Reese Road, Hollidaysburg, with a third-degree felony and two third-degree misdemeanors related to giving false information while purchasing a Taurus .45-caliber handgun, one of two guns used by Jeffrey Lee Michael, 44, in the Dec. 21 rampage along Juniata Valley Road near Geeseytown. Police said Michael shot and killed a neighbor, Kenneth D. Lynn, 60, and his son-in-law, William H. "Bill" Rhodes Jr., 38, along with Kimberly Scott, 58, of Hollidaysburg, who was decorating a church along Juniata Valley Road for a party.
Michael was shot to death by state troopers who returned fire after Michael began shooting at them along Juniata Valley Road.
"[Michael] paid for it, and I actually bought it, but it was for him," Shultz allegedly told state police investigators on Dec. 27, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case by trooper David Aiello. "He bought it for himself."
Shultz allegedly told troopers Michael picked out the handgun and accompanied her to an area sporting goods store on Jan. 29, 2011. Police said Shultz admitted that she filled out the paperwork and Michael paid cash for the gun. According to police, Shultz told investigators she made the buy for Michael because he believed he wasn't allowed to because of a protection-from-abuse order from Michael's ex-wife. State police point out that order had been vacated on July 26, 2010, with the consent of the woman.
Still, police allege that Shultz lied on the state and federal paperwork by declaring, through yes and no questions, that she was the actual purchaser of the handgun and it was intended for her.
Shultz's attorney, Lucas Kelleher, said Friday that his client "feels for all the victims families" but stressed his client was not responsible for what happened Dec. 21 considering the gun was bought more than a year before the killings.
Kelleher maintained the gun was bought for Shultz and that at the time Michael was legally able to purchase a gun.
"Obviously, it was a tragic event that occurred," Kelleher said Friday after Shultz was arraigned and released by Magisterial District Judge Paula Aigner on an unsecured $50,000 bond.
"Our position is that this crime does not have any correlation to that tragic event," Kelleher said, adding Shultz has no prior criminal history or prior knowledge or involvement in the shooting spree. "We're denying Brenda is guilty of anything at this point."
Kelleher said it was still early in the case and said more needed to be learned about the case against his client and the applicable firearms laws.
Deputy District Attorney Wade Kagarise said the store's employees aren't under investigation and do not appear to have committed any crime in selling Shultz the gun.
"We're into the final steps of wrapping up the investigation," Kagarise said Friday.
A preliminary hearing is slated for Tuesday morning at District Court in Hollidaysburg.