Dr. Predrag Bulic, Chief of the 23rd District Medical Examiner’s Office, reported his findings in this morning’s autopsy of Tonya and Timothy West; Historic City News has learned that the deaths were the apparent result of a murder-suicide.
Last night, shortly after 9:30 p.m., 48-year-old Timothy West was at his residence on Summerhill Circle, off Old Moultrie Road. A domestic disturbance escalated into violence between West and his wife, 33-year-old Tonya West.
According to Sheriff’s spokesman, Kevin R Kelshaw, the evidence shows that West, who was armed with a pistol-grip 12-guage shotgun, opened fire on his wife, killing her. The West’s teenage daughter, with blood on her clothes, ran out of the house to a neighbor; telling him that her parents had killed themselves.
As responding officers, Sergeant James Priester and Deputy Joshua Butler, arrived, the neighbor, still on the telephone with police dispatchers, saw Timothy West. He was moving about in front of his house, still armed with the shotgun. The neighbor can be heard on the 911 call telling West to “put the gun down”. West would not comply. Priester and Butler also commanded West to put down his weapon, instead he pointed the shotgun directly at the officers, who fired on him in self-defense. West died at the scene.
Major Crime detectives cordoned off the crime scene while they obtained a warrant to search the residence. With the warrant in hand, deputies entered the home and discovered Tonya West dead on the floor.
According to Dr. Bulic’s findings, the woman’s cause of death was “multiple gunshot injuries”. The Medical Examiner ruled the manner of death, homicide. Bulic found the manner of death in Timothy West to be “suicide by cop” and the cause of death to be multiple gunshot injuries.
The two deputies involved have been placed on Administrative Leave, which is standard procedure in a deputy-involved shooting.