Neighbors fought over shed before murder-suicide involving Central York teacher: police

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

A dispute over the construction of a shed preceded the weekend's fatal shooting of Central York teacher Erin Walker by her neighbor, police said Tuesday.

"What occurred this past Saturday was a senseless loss of life and tragedy for both families as well as our community,” Spring Garden Township Police Chief George J. Swartz said of the confrontation that culminated in a murder-suicide.

Swartz said the dispute apparently began on May 19, two days before the shooting, over a shed that Daniel Berry installed that reportedly severed the Verizon line to Walker's home. Walker filed a complaint with the township's zoning office that day, claiming Berry installed the shed without proper permits.

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The next morning, Walker called the police to report the disconnected line and an officer made arrangements to fix it, according to the police chief. Berry then called the police to request a zoning officer come out and look at the shed.

The next call the police received was Saturday, the night of the shooting.

Swartz said a neighbor caught video footage of the incident via a door camera. The video showed Walker pulling into the back of her property — possibly returning home from the grocery store — with her 3-year-old daughter, Charlea, in the vehicle. Berry was outside on his patio.

The chief said the video shows a discussion between the neighbors. Berry then shot Walker, returned to his patio and shot himself.

Walker, 36, died of her wounds Sunday at WellSpan York Hospital. Berry, 59, was found dead Saturday with what the coroner's office described as a fatal gunshot wound to the head.

Swartz said officers have investigated the shooting for three days in order to piece together the sequence of events. More information, such as the weapon involved and Berry's mental and physical state, is expected to come soon.

“The only dispute that came to our attention was in fact this issue with the shed,” he said. “I will note there may have been other issues that we aren’t currently aware of that may have been a factor for what occurred Saturday evening.” 

He added: “We may never know.” 

The chief added that the neighbors showed compassion in the aftermath of the shooting. One neighbor rolled Walker onto her side, he said, while another took care of her daughter. A third took care of Berry’s mother until police made other arrangements. 

— Reach Meredith Willse at mwillse@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.

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