CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A deadly shooting spree in Pennsylvania is impacting people well-loved in our community.
A 21-year-old man shot four people, killing three.
This happened at a hotel, and nearby home, just a few miles from Penn State on Thursday night.
Dean, 62, and Steve “Stevie," 19, Beachy were killed by a 21-year-old shooter and have connections to the Charlotte area.
The Beachy family is well-known near Iredell County because of a horse and carriage auction, The Dixie Horse Auction, that happens twice per year in Troutman, NC.
Thousands come out to the event, and some industry leaders regarded it as the most significant auction of its kind in the southeast.
When news of the shooting reached members of the community who knew the Beachys, they were horrified.
“His dad got shot in front of him this is just horrific,” said Bridgers Medlin, owner of Southern Breezes Carriages. “It literally shocked everyone I knew who knew Dean and his auctions.”
Dean was known to be kind, fair and an excellent businessman. His son, Stevie, was a talented baseball player who had recently graduated from high school.
“You couldn’t have asked for an absolute nicer guy. He was great at business he was very fair and honest,” said Medlin.
Medlin bought his beloved carriage horse, Elvis, from a Beachy auction 12 years ago. He keeps his horses on a wide-open farm in Monroe, NC, to enjoy being free when they are not walking the city as carriage tour guides a few days per week.
“Our horses come home every night. This is where they live. They’re our family,” said Medlin.
Medlin knew the Beachy family for about 18 years.
“The horses you see in Uptown, the carriages, the equipment, they’re all from his [Beachy’s] auctions,” said Medlin.
Beachy family members and friends say Dean and Stevie were staying at a Ramada hotel near Penn State for an upcoming auction. The father and son were getting dinner when they noticed 21-year-old Jordan Witmer in an argument with a woman.
Family says the Beachy’s tried to diffuse the situation, and at first it worked. The group started laughing together, then Witmer stepped out to go to the restroom. When he came back, he had a gun and shot Dean in the head, Stevie in the stomach, then the woman.
Witmer then drove down the road, crashed his car, broke into the nearby home of an 83-year-old, shot the elderly man, then shot himself.
“We’re still trying to piece together this tragedy and make sense of it but the more I think about it there’s not sense to it," said officials in Pennsylvania.
“He just stood up trying to do the right thing trying to protect someone and this happened. I’m still in shock about it all,” said Medlin.
The Beachy family is from Ohio and will hold services for the family members there.
The Dixie Horse auction in Troutman, just north of Charlotte, will still be held this year in March. The family is working to put together something to remember the lives of their family who has been lost.