Jennifer Edwards Baker & Bowdeya Tweh report:
A couple going through a contentious divorce died in an apparent murder-suicide early today, West Chester police said.
Brian Dunn, 34, was found dead inside a vehicle in at 809 Trustway Court in Mason by 6 a.m., about an hour after police say he gunned down his estranged wife outside his home in the 7900 block of Barret Road, a township spokeswoman said.
The woman was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, said Barb Wilson.
Relatives identified her as Candi Dunn, 32.
Mason police said Brian Dunn appeared to have a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The couple leaves behind three children: two boys and a girl who are 15, 13 and 6.
The Dunns were going through a divorce and Candi Dunn recently was charged with domestic violence after allegedly attacking their oldest child. Brian Dunn took out a restraining order on her, but he requested it be dropped a month later.
Their final divorce hearing was scheduled for Dec. 16.
“This is such a tragedy. We would really like to extend our sympathy and concern to the family and the children at this point,” said Annette Lolli, Butler County Domestic Relations Court Administrator.
Police have not said yet today what led to gunfire in the driveway of the family home.
Brian Dunn’s mother called 911 and requested an ambulance just before 5 a.m.
“I don’t know what happened. I was in the bed. I have three grandkids with me,” the woman told a dispatcher. “My son and his soon to be ex-wife were out here and her windshield’s busted up. She’s in my driveway. I don’t know what happened but he just took off, my son.”
“Were they outside together?” the dispatcher asked.
“I heard something pop and I don’t know what it was. I just need somebody to get here with an ambulance,” the woman responded.
“What do you need an ambulance for?”
“For her. She’s on the ground. I don’t know what happened.”
“Is she conscious?”
“I don’t know,” the woman answered. “I am in the bed. I am going down to check.”
A few minutes later, the woman told the dispatcher she saw a lot of blood in the driveway. The victim’s car was still running but her son was gone. She identified the victim as Candi.
When a dispatcher asked where her son might have gone, she responded that he probably would kill himself.
Shortly after the shooting, initial police broadcasts described Dunn as “armed and dangerous.”
Jesse Sheets, a resident on Trustway Court, said he learned about the early morning shooting from news outlets, but then he saw a swarm of police and fire crews in the area heading to the end of the cul-de-sac.
“I told my wife, Don’t turn no lights on something’s going on,” Sheets said. “Pretty soon, they flooded this area (and I thought), What in the world?”
Eventually, the sheriff’s deputies, emergency medical crews and other support personnel left the scene after finding Dunn dead.
Candi Dunn filed for divorce on April 29 in Butler County Domestic Relations Court, 10 days after she was arrested and charged with domestic violence for allegedly attacking her 15-year-old son in front of Brian Dunn and the couple’s daughter, court records show.
She spent the weekend in jail and was released on April 22. Brian Dunn asked for and received a temporary restraining order against her on April 24. She was ordered to stay away from him, the children and the Barret Road home until a full hearing was held on the matter June 24.
In his court petition, he wrote that she suffered from paranoia, showed signs of schizophrenia and was urged to seek psychiatric help for her mental condition in the weeks before the attack. At one point, she left the family in his care.
She told her estranged husband “she was mentally ill and that she needed to stay away from her family to protect them as she believed that it was a spiritual presence attacking her family,” he wrote in his court petition for the restraining order.
A few days later, she wanted to take the children with her to visit her step-mother’s, which Brian Dunn allowed. But the 15-year-old did not want to go with her and an argument erupted when she came to the house.
“She began to get irate and began pulling (the 15-year-old) up by his arm and started to kick him with the side of her foot trying to force him to get up,” Brian Dunn wrote.
The teen became scared and started running from her. She also kicked him on the tailbone, threw a full bottle of hair spray at him, a can of soda and a belt “which I felt either item could have severely hurt him if it struck him,” he wrote.
A court record check did not find any restraining orders taken out against Brian Dunn by Candi Dunn, Lolli said.
This is the second fatal domestic shooting in Butler County in a week.
Samantha Decker, 24, was killed in Fairfield early on Thursday.
Her ex-boyfriend Nicholas Delaney has been charged with murder and is being held on $1.5 million bond.
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