Family seeks answers in Capital High student's fatal shooting
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Kanawha County man who police say shot his two adopted children was not prone to violence and loved his family, relatives said.
The Pittman family gathered at the Keystone Drive home, which is near Greenbrier Street, Sunday afternoon to write 15-year-old Brittany Pittman's obituary and try to figure out what led Roy Pittman, 69, to murder.
Roy and Wanda Pittman raised eight children, seven of them adopted, said Jason Pittman, one of the couple's adopted children.
The couple, who have been married more than 40 years, adopted Brittany, 18-year-old Matthew, and their three younger siblings eight years ago, Jason said. Their children range in age from 43 to 9.
Brittany's siblings called her a sweet girl who loved everyone. Roy and Wanda loved all of their children, said Bridget Crist, another of the adopted children.
"She was perfect," Crist, 25, said of her sister. "She took care of the kids and held the house together. (Roy) never laid a hand on any of us. I just don't get it. He was a good person."
She said he would grab her and Brittany and kiss them both on the head and say, "that's my little girl." She said he took all of the children fishing and did activities with them.
"It just doesn't make any sense," Crist said, her voice thick with tears. "None. I don't see how he could have done this to Brittany. She was just the sweetest, most loving person."
Jason said Roy fell in the bathroom in the family home Thursday and struck his face. Roy, a retired plumber, had fallen three times in the two days before the shooting occurred, he said.
Crist, who lives across the street from her adoptive parents, said she'd seen Roy earlier in the day helping a relative up the street work on their vehicle. He was "perfectly fine," she said.
"Then just like that, she's gone," Crist said.
Crist was in her yard Friday evening with her biological father doing yard work. He was cutting grass and she was moving rocks. That's when she heard yelling from the house across the street.
"I heard (Wanda) yell 'Put the gun down. You're not going to use it,' then I looked down through the trees and saw the butt of the gun," Crist said.
Then she heard a shot.
She said she looked at her father, and then took off running down the hill. Roy was still there with the gun and five others were standing around Matthew, who had been at his aunt's house. The five stood motionless around him in shock, Crist said. Matthew had been shot in the leg.
"I heard Matthew say 'Help me,' " she recalled. "It was gushing blood, just pouring out. It looked like a stream.
"I grabbed him and held him. He said 'Don't let me die.' "
Crist said Roy walked away and she screamed at the others to get her something to put on his leg. She was terrified Roy would come back but was also scared for her brother.
Soon deputies were standing around them with guns trained on them. She said the deputies didn't know what was happening or where Roy was. Paramedics came and tended to Matthew, taking him to Charleston Area Medical Center's General Hospital where he underwent surgery.
Jason said the artery near Matthew's groin was split but that the bone wasn't broken. He is expected to make a full recovery.
After the paramedics took Matthew, Crist walked back up the hill toward Roy and Wanda's house, where she heard Wanda screaming, "Is she OK? Is she alive?"
She said Brittany's younger siblings all were in the home when the shooting occurred. They told Wanda Brittany had been shot, Crist said. Wanda called 911.
Roy turned the gun on himself after he shot Matthew, Crist said. He was also taken to General Hospital, but hospital operators wouldn't comment on his condition, citing privacy laws.
"Everything is still confusing," Jason Pittman, 39, of St. Albans, said from the family home. "Everyone's torn apart. It's been very difficult.
"He's not allowed any visitors. We can't even get in to ask why or what he was thinking."
He faces charges of murder and attempted murder, the family said.
Jason said Brittany was a bright girl who had just completed her freshman year at Capital High School. Friday was the last day of school.
She was also taking heating and cooling classes at Carver Career and Technical Center. She'd already chosen that as her field of choice.
Crist said Brittany made straight A's and was among the youngest students at Carver.
"She had her life planned out and what she wanted to do," Crist said. "I love her so, so much and I miss her and want her back here with us."
Friends took to a memorial Facebook page to express their grief. By Sunday afternoon, the page had more than 1,100 likes.
Friends and family members shared photos of a smiling teen.
"I remember all the times we had, and I'm never going to forget that," Amersley Bradley, a close friend, posted Saturday. "You were one of the most beautiful girls I've ever met, and you had that crazy personality to go with it. I don't know how I'm going to get through anything without you, you were always that one person I went to."
Another friend Curtissa McNeil called Brittany a "beautiful intelligent girl that I will always love and miss," in a Facebook post.
"Nobody will understand her like I do," close friend Baylee Webb posted Friday night. "We were so close and then she was ripped away from me. Fly high angel. Watch over us! I love you and will forever miss you."
Kanawha deputies still are investigating.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4850.
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