Police: Man admits he fired fatal gunshots

A dispute reportedly over sacred Indian stones resulted in a 32-year-old man being shot to death early Thursday morning inside a Woodward Township home by another man, who was detained and questioned by state police for more than 12 hours before being released.

Kevin Eugene Bennardi, 44, has admitted to shooting Michael Lee Woodhead in Bennardi’s home at 59 Wither Hollow Lane in the township about 12:30 a.m., police said said in court papers.

No charges have been filed against Bennardi.

Both men were friends at one time, and Bennardi allowed Woodhead to stay at his house from December to April until the two had a falling out, according to investigators.

“Mike was upset and charged at me,” Bennardi was quoted as saying to state troopers within minutes after they arrived at his home, which is located on a small private road, just west of the 400 block of Daughertys Run Road.

“Bennardi related that he was scared so he shot ‘Mike’ multiple times,” a state trooper said in a search warrant that the Sun-Gazette obtained late Thursday afternoon.

Bennardi told investigators that Woodhead “was upset with him because he had touched Woodhead’s sacred Indian stones,” the warrant stated.

Woodhead, who is an American Indian, had apparently left behind some sacred stones when he moved to Muncy Valley two months ago, investigators said.

The county’s 911 center received two calls about the shooting, the first one apparently made by Bennardi, police said.

The first caller did not identify himself by name, but he told a dispatcher that “Michael Woodhead was dead” and he also “admitted to shooting” the victim, police said. The caller gave his address before hanging up.

Troopers rushed to the scene and detained Bennardi without incident.

Woodhead was found dead on the back deck of Bennardi’s house “with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back,” police said.

“Many of the bullets traveled through the victim and into the ground. Therefore it may be necessary to excavate the property to recover some of the the bullets,” police said.

Troopers found “seven empty shell casings in the hallway, near the backdoor. A 22-caliber rifle was found leaning against the kitchen cupboards, which also is near the the backdoor,” court records state.

The second 911 call came from Scott Baney, a friend of Woodhead’s who went to the Bennardi property with him.

Baney told a dispatcher that upon arriving at Bennardi’s home, “a gun was pulled and he heard multiple shots,” court records state. Baney fled the scene in Woodhead’s pickup truck, drove to his home in the city and called 911.

A city police officer immediately went to Baney’s house. The shaken man told the officer that he “had just seen his friend Woodhead get shot several times with a rifle by Bennardi,” according to court records.

Woodhead’s truck was parked in Baney’s backyard. The vehicle was impounded.

“There were multiple spent casings in the bed of the truck,” police said.

At the office of District Judge Allen P. Page III, state police filed search warrants to gather valuable evidence from Bennardi’s home and Woodhead’s truck.

Another warrant that was issued allowed investigators to examine any “gunshot residue found on Bennardi’s hands” and his clothing, police said.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt confirmed that Bennardi “has been identified as the shooter.”

Bennardi has “been talking with investigators. No charging decision has been made,” Linhardt said.

Bennardi was released by mid-afternoon.

Jerold Ross, chief deputy county coroner, pronounced Woodhead dead at the scene. An autopsy is scheduled for later today.

Investigators said Woodhead had been on county probation or parole. WNEP reported that sources told them that Woodhead had “a long history of run-ins with the law,” including assault and drug arrests.