A Johnstown man is accused of killing his wife during a dispute inside their West End apartment late Monday, taking her life with a single gunshot to the head.

Investigators said Chad Busch, 31, of Virginia Avenue, shot 31-year-old Tiffany Busch, 31, at close range inside their apartment’s second-floor bedroom while their 3-year-old daughter was in the room.

Police said an 11-year-old boy was also in the home.

“Two kids’ lives were absolutely turned upside down,” Cambria County District Attorney Greg Neugebauer said during a Wednesday press conference. “As a parent, that’s hard to fathom. So our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s families, particularly the children.”

Law enforcement officials said Chad Busch initially reported the incident as an accidental shooting inside the home.

During an initial interview, Chad Busch told police his wife pulled a gun on him after he packed his bags to leave the apartment, police wrote in a criminal complaint.

Due to yelling inside the room, the family dog came in and bit Tiffany, leading to a chain of events that caused her to fall backward and discharge the weapon, he allegedly said.

But Johnstown police Chief Richard Pritchard and Cambria County Coroner Jeff Lees said evidence collected inside the home and an autopsy completed Tuesday conflicted with that story.

Lees cited the bullet’s trajectory as one factor.

“Forensic Pathologist Dr. Kevin Whaley concluded that it was impossible for Tiffany to have shot herself at that angle, at that distance,” Detective Mark Britton wrote in a criminal complaint, adding that the gunshot caused a wound that exited from the rear of her skull at a downward angle.

Whaley’s report prompted investigators to meet with Chad Busch for a second interview, and Britton wrote that the man admitted to taking the gun off his wife during their argument and firing it, striking her in the face.

Busch faces homicide and two aggravated assault charges.

He was lodged in the Cambria County Prison awaiting a preliminary hearing before District Judge Michael Musulin. That hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Because Busch currently faces a homicide charge, no bond was set.

Neugebauer said Children & Youth Services was notified about the case because the two minors were in the home.

He credited a Busch family friend for looking after the children until they could be placed with relatives.

Neugebauer said the family moved to Johnstown earlier this year from the Philadelphia area.

The incident is the latest of a series of domestic incidents over the past two years that have claimed one or both people involved.

“Obviously, domestic violence is an issue everywhere. But there’s no excuse for any type of marital dispute to turn physical,” Neugebauer said.

But it happens, he said, “and victims need to know and understand there are plenty of resources available at the state, county and local levels.”

Neugebauer named the Women’s Help Center in Johnstown as one local option.

“If you are a victim of domestic violence, please seek help,” he said. “Whether it’s from my office or police, there are a lot of people here to help.”

Pritchard credited his investigators as well as support from state police, the Cambria County Coroner’s Office and Neugebauer’s office for enabling investigators to solve the case quickly.

Busch’s death is the first homicide of 2021 within the city of Johnstown and Cambria County’s second case. 

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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