AUDRA — A domestic dispute at Audra State Park turned tragic Saturday evening, resulting in an apparent murder-suicide that left two men dead. Trooper Z.B. Kisamore received the call for an active shooter complaint Aug. 28 at approximately 6:50 p.m. and began investigating the incident upon arrival to the popular summer location.
According to the Philippi Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, Dustin Christopher Peterson met with his soon-to-be ex-wife, Nycole Peterson, in a parking lot at Audra State Park prior to the fatal shooting. She was reportedly camping with Christopher Jackson Price, who arrived shortly after to “confront the suspect.”
Witnesses to the incident said a verbal argument ensued, and law enforcement confirmed that the two men both drew pistols and pointed them at each other. According to the WVSP, Dustin Peterson then shot the victim, Christopher Jackson Price, killing him instantly.
Peterson then reportedly turned his weapon on himself, ending his own life with a single shot from his handgun. “Both the suspect and victim were pronounced deceased at the scene by the county coroners,” a WVSP press release stated.
Julie Ruppenthal contacted The Record Delta to share her knowledge of the incident, after reportedly noticing some inaccuracies and speculations circulating online about what had occurred over the weekend. Initial reports varied greatly about a “mass shooting” and rumors even spread that the woman involved had also been killed, which was not true. The woman said she essentially wanted to set the record straight that this was an isolated domestic incident that is not characteristic of her favorite, peaceful swimming spot.
Ruppenthal said she was just enjoying the beautiful day swimming with her family at Audra State Park when they saw people trying to get everyone out of the water, followed by three gunshots that caused them to take notice. “I assumed it was kids with bb guns, so we continued swimming,” she stated, explaining they did not even hear any screaming. “A little while later, we saw people ushering other people and their kids out of the water. I got out of the water and asked someone what was going on. They said there was a man up there with a gun and they were fighting, and somebody pulled a gun on someone.”
Ruppenthal said her daughter was initially alarmed, but they did not realize what had actually occurred in the parking lot at the top of the bank until two boys returned to the river shouting, “There’s two people dead!” Ruppenthal said they were in disbelief when the news was confirmed that the altercation had turned deadly and a woman asked for her towel to help cover up the bodies until the police could arrive. The witness also confirmed that she did see the shooter’s wife at the scene of the crime and said the woman appeared unharmed.
Assisting the Philippi WVSP were the Barbour County Sheriff’s Department, West Virginia Natural Resources Police, Upshur County Sheriff’s Department, Belington Fire Department and Belington EMS.