Correction: The original version of this article that was published on March 11 said the gunman was a sheriff’s deputy. That information was incorrect and we apologize for the mistake. The following story contains the correct information about the incident.
Gretna, VA – A Virginia man murdered his wife and then turned the gun on himself at a Dairy Queen in front of a Pittsylvania County sheriff’s deputy.
The incident occurred at about 12 noon on March 4 after a silver 2004 Honda Accord pulled up next to Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Ashworth in the parking lot of the Dairy Queen on West Gretna Road, WSLS reported.
The woman in the car – later identified as 43-year-old Patricia Towler of Tightsqueeze – alerted Deputy Ashworth to the fact she was being held hostage by her husband.
That’s when her husband, 50-year-old Dane Towler, pulled out a gun and shot Patricia right in front of the deputy, WDBJ reported.
Then Dane turned the gun on himself.
After the driver shot himself, the car careened across U.S. Highway 40 and stopped when it crashed into a house, WDBJ reported.
The Towlers’ 14-month-old baby boy was in the backseat of the car when his father shot his mother and then himself, but the child was not injured.
The medical examiner confirmed that each of the Towlers died from a single gunshot wound, WDBJ reported.
Investigators said the preliminary investigation pointed to domestic violence as the motive.
Search warrants obtained during the investigation showed that deputies recovered a Smith & Wesson .357 revolver from inside the vehicle, WSET reported.
Officials have said the investigation is ongoing and that they still had a number of witnesses and friends to interview.
Patricia had worked at the Caswell Family Medical Center as a registered nurse and operations manager for 18 years, WSLS reported.
“Tricia approached each day with a tenacity for the highest standard of quality care, but more than that: an innate desire to make the world a better a place for everyone,” the company posted on its Facebook page. “She gave tirelessly of herself to family, coworkers and patients, often going above and beyond to pass on the purest of Godly love… Her commitment to excellence in how healthcare is delivered was evident in the way she mentored all CFMC’s staff, especially her nurses, to perform at a level that exceeded their own expectations. Her life represents a level of humanity that all should strive for.”
Deputy Ashworth is a school resource officer at Gretna Middle School, WSLS reported.