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MAN WOUNDS WIFE, KILLS SELF

A Town of Wales man backed away from police and into his house, where he killed himself Thursday after a shooting spree that left his wife, a former million-dollar lottery winner, bleeding along a roadside after fleeing for her life through the woods near their home, sheriff's investigators reported.

George D. Donnelly Jr., 65, was pronounced dead at 4 p.m. in Mercy Hospital. His wife, Linda, 49, was taken to Erie County Medical Center with a head wound. She was treated and released.

Erie County Sheriff's Department investigators said the shootings followed a domestic argument that turned violent, leaving a trail of spent shells and blood near the couple's home.

Donnelly reportedly drove up as passers-by were trying to help his wife after she emerged from the woods near a Big Tree Road restaurant and scattered them with more gunshots before driving away.

Russell Pecoraro, chief of detectives for the Erie County Sheriff's Department, said that when officers arrived at the Donnelly home, "a man came out holding a .22 pistol, then went back inside and shot himself."

Donnelly, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head, was a member of a prominent Wales family. He was the son of the late George Donnelly, who was Wales supervisor in the late 1950s. The Donnellys made headlines in 1978 when Mrs. Donnelly won $1 million in the state lottery.

Late Thursday afternoon, sheriff's investigators recovered spent shells and checked a trail of blood near the couple's home at 12706 Big Tree Road (Route 20A).

"It looks like he shot at her -- maybe even shot her -- with a .22 pistol inside the house," said homicide Capt. Charles Hedges. "Then she ran out the back and through the woods, emerging about 400 yards up the road near the August Twenty-Five Restaurant.

"A man and a woman saw her. The man was driving and stopped to ask if she needed help when he saw she was bleeding. Just then, the husband drove up and began shooting. The woman ran inside the restaurant and told them to call 911. The man drove to a nearby business and called 911 from there."

News Staff Reporters Janice L. Habuda and Mike Vogel contributed to this report.

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