Investigators: Teen fatally shot by grandpa in Butler County had criminal past

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CONNOQUENESSING, Pa. - A man charged with shooting and killing his grandson in Butler County remained behind bars on Monday.

Larry Karnes, 76, was charged with criminal homicide in the deadly shooting of his grandson -- Austin Riddell, 19.

Chopper 11, on Friday, was over the scene at Sunset Drive in Connoquenessing borough. From that vantage point, one could see several police cars surrounding the house.

Family and friends told Channel 11 News that Riddell lived there with his grandparents. State police said that the grandfather shot his grandson with a rifle following an argument. Riddell died at the scene.

Karnes told police he was arguing with Riddell when his rifle accidentally went off.

A family member said that Riddell was a good person.

"He was a good kid," she said. "It is a shame. I don't know. He was a good kid. He would give you the shirt off of his back."

According to investigators, Riddell has a criminal past. In May 2010 he was charged with harassment for hitting a man with a soda can. In Jan. 2011 he was charged with disorderly conduct and in April 2012 he was charged with criminal mischief, police said. Lastly, On Aug. 6 he was charged with simple and aggravated assault.

State police said they and the district attorney are taking into consideration Riddell’s past offenses.

Karnes is being held without bond in the Butler County Prison.

Channel 11's Vince Sims talked with a neighbor who rushed to the house, where he saw Karnes' wife minutes after the shooting.

"She was pretty shaken up when I got there," the neighbor said. "I just can't believe it. We're like family. I feel bad for (the wife). I feel bad for Larry. (I) feel bad for his mom."

Despite the charges, the neighbor talked well of Karnes.

"I just want people to know that Larry is not a bad guy," he said. "People need to know that it's sad what happened, but nobody knows what exactly went on in the house."

The neighbor added that Riddell grew up with his grandparents, and that he was a good kid who helped around the neighborhood.

Karnes is set to make his first court appearance on murder charges on Tuesday.

A fund has been set up for donations to help pay for Riddell’s funeral expenses. Donations to the “Austin Riddell Memorial Fund” can be made at any Nextier Bank.