52-year-old William Kelly has been identified as the man behind a murder-suicide on the campus of Penn State’s Beaver County affiliate on Wednesday, December 13. William Kelly reportedly shot his 49-year-old ex-wife Lesli Kelly with two handguns before pulling the trigger on himself. The attack was reported at 3:38 PM at the university’s food services building, which includes a student cafeteria. However, it was later determined that the shooting happened outside, in the building’s parking lot. The police say that no students were affected by the shooting, and that the rest of the Kelly family is safe. In any case, at the time of the shooting, the university ordered an evacuation of the area and a dismissal of non-essential employees for the rest of the day.
According to State Police Lieutenant Eric Hermick, it is believed William Kelly arrived at the campus with the alibi of dropping off a Christmas present for Lesli, who was on her break during a shift at the food services building that afternoon. Lesli was reportedly waiting for William in a parked Subaru SUV, and William arrived in a similar-looking Chevrolet SUV. William approached Lesli with a wrapped present box before pulling out his weapons and committing the attack. Witnesses informed the police that there was some brief screaming and yelling before the shooting happened.
The Kellys had three children, who were staying with their relatives at the time of the shooting. The Kellys had recently gotten a divorce, and the police believe that this was “a domestic violence thing”, as Hermick put it. Lesli had filed several complaints to campus police in the past about William, although she failed to go through with a protection form abuse order. “We’re getting indications that there was domestic issues, child support issues,” Hermick elaborated. One of their children is an adult, but two are minors who were under shared custody, and police believe an argument over custody may have been a potential motive for the deadly dispute. This was initially a concern when the police found blood-stained documents inside the car, although it was later determined the children were safe.
As for the university, school chancellor Jenifer Cushman said that counseling would be available to students, facutly and staff. In the immediate, arrangements were also made for finals exams that were scheduled for the next day to be moved over to Friday. Campus authorities expressed some relief that the area was not as populated as it would usually be because of the winter break for many students.