Shooting shocks neighbors

May 19, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION


Neighbors of Jennifer and Scott Luty of Charles Town expressed shock Thursday over an incident Wednesday afternoon in downtown Frederick, Md., in which Scott Luty apparently shot his wife in the head, attempted to shoot a police officer, then killed himself near a parking lot.

The couple has lived in a small, two-story yellow house at 632 S. Samuel St. for about five years and had friendly relationships with neighbors, neighbors said Thursday afternoon.

Jennifer Luty, who was in critical condition Thursday afternoon at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, has been working full-time in Frederick with troubled youths, said next-door-neighbor Jim Walch.


Jennifer Luty's job involves keeping troubled youths in their family home, Walch said.

Jennifer Luty has been going to school at night as part of a master's degree program in social work and was scheduled to graduate soon, Walch said.

Jennifer's parents were planning to travel to the area to see her graduate, Walch said.

"And they got this terrible news. It's a real shock," Walch said.

Scott Luty managed a Guess clothing outlet store in Leesburg, Va., Walch said. Scott Luty was in retail at one time, then began selling used cars and returned to retail sales, Walch said.

Neighbors described Scott Luty as "quiet."

Walch declined to talk about everything between the couple, but he said he knew of nothing that would result in something like Wednesday's incident.

"Nothing should result in something like this," Walch said.

Frederick Police Department officials said Scott Luty, 32, was waiting for his wife, also 32, to return to her parked car in the first block of South Bentz Street. When she did, a conversation between the couple escalated and Luty shot his wife in the head at 2:11 p.m., according to Lt. Thomas Chase.

Frederick Police Department Officer 1st Class Douglas Stephenson heard the dispute as he was walking in the area and saw the couple when he reached Bentz Street, Chase said.

When Stephenson saw that Scott Luty was holding a gun, he ordered Luty to drop it, Chase said.

Scott Luty then shot his wife and fired at the officer, Chase said. The officer returned fire one time and Scott Luty retreated up the bank of a vacant lot and shot himself, police said.

A .38-caliber handgun was recovered from Scott Luty, Chase said.

Frederick Police said in a news release Thursday that an examination by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner showed Scott Luty suffered two gunshot wounds, one of which was to the chest due to the shot from Stephenson.

The second gunshot wound, which was to the head, was self-inflicted, the release said.

Chase declined Thursday to comment on a motive for the shooting.

"That's what a grand jury is for," Chase said.

Police said Thursday that the matter will be presented to a grand jury, and Chase said part of the grand jury's job will be reviewing how Stephenson did his job during the incident.

In a news release Thursday, Police Chief Kim C. Dine commended Stephenson for his attention to duty while on patrol and his heroic response.

Chase said Thursday that Jennifer Luty was in critical condition and her eyes were open. She was looking around but was not communicating, Chase said.

The couple's home is in a quiet, tree-lined street in Charles Town. Spring flowers bloomed in the front yard of their home Thursday as neighbors talked about the couple.

Next-door neighbor Mary Mugnolo said the Lutys would help her and her husband with household chores like cutting the grass and carrying heavy items. Mugnolo said she and her husband did not become real close with the Lutys because of an age difference between the couples.

"I sort of called them our guardian angels. They seemed to be getting along from what we could see. I just don't understand. Who knows why these things happen?" Mugnolo said.

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