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Mountain town shocked by shooting outburst

By THOMAS J. SHEERAN

ALLEN, Ky. -- A 70-year-old man, apparently upset about an argument, walked into a ramshackle auto parts store and opened fire with an automatic weapon, killing five men and wounding three others.

William O. Bevins, 70, was arrested at his home in Printer a few hours after the shootings Friday and charged with five counts of murder, state police said.

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The slayings stunned the small mountain community of 1,000 people.

Danny Bentley, who works at a service station near the store, said, 'It just surprised everybody -- nobody could believe it. I'd say everybody knew everybody, including the guy who killed them.'

An Allen businessman said some residents believed a family dispute may have prompted the shooting.

'He (Bevins) seemed like an ordinary person to me,' said the businessman, who asked that his name be withheld for fear of his safety.

State Trooper Phillip Tucker said Bevins apparently had argued earlier with one of the men who was killed, Roger Click.

'As best we can determine at this time is Bevins was in a dispute with Click,' Tucker said. 'But we have no idea at this time what it was all about.'

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The argument began at a home and ended with the shootings at the Mountain Auto store, located on the side of a hill near Allen, which is about 24 miles northwest of Pikeville, near the Kentucky-West Virginia border.

Police said the gunman entered the store shortly before noon and, without saying a word, opened fire. The victims were hit by at least 10 bullets. Police have not found the weapon but said it was an 'Army-type .30-caliber automatic weapon.'

At least three of those shot were employees of the store and the others were customers.

A local judge set a hearing for Bivens but he refused to disclose the time or place. The suspect was moved out of the Floyd County Jail to an undisclosed location for his safety.

Paul Ballou of Allen said reaction to the murders among residents was 'like any other murder -- a kind of just how bad the world has gotten.'

Besides Click, of Allen, killed were Rufus Hamilton, 43, of Printer; Roger Hatfield, 34, of Mohawk, W.Va.; Garvey Hamilton, 28, of Grethel, and Michael Halbert, 29, of Martin.

Police said three men were wounded, one of them critically.

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