A custody exchange in Barree Township, Huntingdon County (Pennsylvania) on the morning of March 23, 2013 turned deadly when abusive father Kenneth Ayers fired a round of bullets at his family–murdering his 2 year old son, Michael and wounding his estranged wife, Hollie Jo. His mother, Mary Olive, was also shot at but was not injured.

Hollie Jo had requested, and received a protection order from the Court but Kenneth was still allowed visitation with his son. Mary Olive was asked to supervise the exchanges, transferring little Michael from his mother to father, and back.

During the exchange on March 23, and argument erupted between Kenneth and Hollie Jo. It is highly suspicious that Kenneth would bring a loaded gun to the exchange, it is seems likely the attack was premeditated–or that Kenneth brought the gun in an attempt to control or frighten Hollie Jo. NOTHING Hollie Jo could of said or did would cause or justify what happened next..Kenneth Ayers is solely responsible for his violent and murderous actions, no woman or child deserves to be shot or abused in any way.

Enraged, Kenneth Ayers pulled out a .40 caliber handgun during the exchange and starts to shoot. This was not a random shot, Kenneth first pointed the gun at Hollie Jo, wounding her in both legs and the right arm. Kenneth then aimed–and fired–at precious Michael, who had witnessed the attack, and was likely screaming in terror as he watched his “Mommy” being gunned down, and now stumbling to the ground bleeding while she tried to save her son’s life. Reports seem to indicate that Michael was standing alone when the argument began–there are no reports he was being held by an adult. Keep in mind a two year is maybe 2 or 3 feet tall, and weighs between 25-40 pounds. So for a grown adult, Kenneth, to shoot at his own son would mean he would have to intentionally stoop or lower his body to get the child in the line of sight and then fire..the force of the bullets likely knocked this beautiful child to the ground. Clearly this was a premeditated attack, with the intent to kill first Hollie Jo and then little Michael. The news reports seem to indicate that Kenneth was prompted to shoot because of an argument–I really don’t believe that is the case, Kenneth brought the gun to the exchange to kill–he is an abuser who plotted revenged. It will be interesting to see what the protective order reveals about Hollie Jo’s fear of Kenneth, and allegations of abuse…and if the Court responded appropriately in allowing unsupervised visits, and exchanges to occur outside of a safety center.

After murdering Michael, Kenneth fired at his mother, Mary Olive, who was not hit, she managed to escape.

Kenneth then attempted to flee with Michael’s lifeless body, placing the boy in the back of his truck. Hollie Jo, with gunshot wounds in both legs, stood and raced after Michael. This is truly heartbreaking, Hollie Jo attempted to rescue her little boy, not knowing if he was alive or not, and Kenneth fired again, shooting Hollie Jo in the face. Kenneth Ayers is truly evil. He looked into the anguished face of his estranged wife, heard her screams, and as she tried to save her son–shot her again. Hollie Jo did wrestle Michael out of the truck, and cradled him close to her, as blood was pouring down her face, she held the lifeless body of her little boy.

Kenneth Ayers then drove to his own home to switch vehicles, which again shows premeditation. How could this monster walk into his house and see reminders of Hollie Jo and Michael and still only think of himself…there might have been Michael’s crayon drawings stuck on on the fridge, family photos propped on a table, Easter decorations..that house would have reminders of the family that once lived there. Yet Kenneth Ayers was only concerned with himself, after shooting his entire family–switched cars to plan his get away–evil.

This just goes to show that Kenneth likely meant to kill Hollie Jo, Michael and his mother so that there would be no surviving witnesses and then planned to either escape or plead innocence. Instead there were survivors, and likely media attention was growing. The news likely posted an APB for Kenneth, and details of the grisly attack. Knowing he could not escape, or plead innocence. Kenneth switched vehicles and drove into the woods and shot himself, ending his own life.

Words can’t describe the scene … heartbreaking,” says Huntingdon County District Attorney George Zanic (The Altoona Mirror).

Hollie Jo is expected to survive. Both Hollie Jo and Mary Olive were able to provide statements to the police that Kenneth Ayers intentionally shot Michael. Police are still investigating.

My heart goes out to Hollie Jo, Mary Olive and this family, you have my prayers & condolences. I am so sorry for your loss. Words cannot express how deeply saddened I am for you…you have my sincere sympathy and prayers.

 

Sources:

“Father Kills Son, Self: Kenneth Ayers Wounds Estranged Wife, Shoots 2-year-old Son, Commits Suicide During Tragic Custody Exchange” Danica Bellini. Mstarz. 3/24/2013: http://www.mstarz.com/articles/10178/20130324/father-kills-son-self-kenneth-ayers-wounds-estranged-wife-shoots-2-year-old-son-commits-suicide-during-tragic-custody-exchange.htm

” Father shoots and kills two-year-old son, wounds estranged wife before killing himself” Associated Press, Reposted National Post. 3/24/2013. http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/03/24/father-shoots-and-kills-two-year-old-son-wounds-estranged-wife-before-killing-himself/

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