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Police won't release motive in SU shootings

October 14, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - Exactly why Douglas Pennington fatally shot his two sons last month in a Shepherd University west campus parking lot before shooting himself apparently will not be released by the West Virginia State Police.

In a news release Friday, investigating Trooper K.W. Martin announced Pennington left handwritten notes in his vehicle at the crime scene that detailed "an explanation" for shooting university students Logan P. Pennington, 26, and Benjamin M. Pennington, 24, on Sept. 2, and that their father was "apologetic for his actions."

"Based on the witnesses' accounts of this incident and the evidence that was collected and examined, the information already released has been confirmed and is accurate," Martin said.

"The status of this investigation is closed."

First Sgt. L.M. Lambert said Friday the decision not to release a motive for the shooting came after discussion with the agency's legal division.

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Attorney Virginia Lanham, one of the agency's attorneys, confirmed she gave legal advice concerning the case, but not specifically about the release of a motive.

"I would say your best bet would be to obtain a copy of the police report," Martin said Friday.

A copy of the police report can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act through the West Virginia State Police Headquarters in Charleston, W.Va., Martin said.

Police have said Douglas Pennington traveled from the community of Scherr in Grant County to visit his sons on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. For unexplained reasons, he shot both of them with a .38-caliber revolver before turning the firearm on himself.

All three were taken to medical facilities, where they were pronounced dead, but police said all were dead at the scene. The students' mother was hospitalized after learning of the shooting, but Martin said Friday he believed that she had been released soon afterward.

The Labor Day weekend tragedy prompted university officials to arrange special counseling services for grieving students and a candlelight vigil. Both students were fondly remembered by their peers.

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