New details emerged in Ellwood City shooting, homicide
Updates continue with a tragic shooting out of Lawrence County.
23-year-old Keegan Willis-King is behind bars without bond, after police say he shot his girlfriend and killed her mother in Ellwood City Monday night.
24-year-old Cassidy Smith is mourning the loss of her mother but also fighting for her own life after police say Willis-King of New Mexico shot at the two in an apartment on First Street in Ellwood City Monday evening.
"This is not something that happens every day here," explained Patrolman Matthew Morabito with the Ellwood City Police Department. "It's a pretty rare occurrence for a small town. We really weren't sure what was going on inside. Our dispatch had heard gunshots in the background of the call."
Police were called to the 200 block of 1st Street at about 5:21 pm Tuesday after receiving a call stating the shooting suspect was still inside the house. The caller identified the alleged shooter as Willis-King.
Police reported hearing 4 to 5 shots fired as they arrived on the scene.
Ellwood City Police describe the scene as a domestic dispute after receiving multiple calls from neighbors and the sister in the apartment.
"It was about a 20-minute situation where I had ordered him out of the residence over the pa system throughout the car," Morabito said. "He had come out with his hands up. He surrendered peacefully and we took him into custody."
42-year-old Krista Knechtel was killed in the apartment while Smith remains in critical condition. Police tell 21 News the sister hid in a back room where she was able to call 911.
Neighbors told police the gunshots went through their ceiling during the altercation. Witnesses described what they heard while in a nearby bar.
"My friend at the bar started to go out the door to go to her car," explained one woman who was at a local bar. "She came flying back in. She said, 'There's a shooter out there! There are police everywhere."
Police on the scene ordered the suspect to surrender. The police report states that Willis-King came out of the residence at 5:44 pm, not wearing a shirt, with one head over his head and a pistol in his left hand which was behind his back.
The report also noted that the suspect had blood splatter on his hands, forehead and sweatpants. Willis-King was taken into police custody and is reportedly said he "needed to get to New Mexico as spoon as possible."
Ellwood City Police received the autopsy report Tuesday evening which revealed Knechtel was shot in the head a total of 5 times.
Police found a 9mm Glock firearm inside the Ellwood City home with what appeared to be blood beside a cell phone that appeared to still be on.
"I'm familiar with the two victims. I talked to them just being a policeman here for 5 years," Morabito explained. "But as far as the offender, I've never had any run-ins with him or dealings."
Police found one woman on a couch with a gunshot wound to the head that appeared to be not breathing and another female on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head that was breathing.
Willis-King was arraigned Tuesday on criminal homicide and attempted criminal homicide charges.
Witnesses in the downstairs of the home told police they heard a confrontation upstairs followed by muffled words and gunshots.
This is Ellwood City's first homicide since 2017. Willis-King appears back in court Wednesday, February 8.