22 rounds fired in homicide following dispute with landlord

Threat of an eviction apparently led to an early morning shooting last Tuesday leaving one man dead from 22 gunshot wounds and 59-year-old Robert Dean Penny charged with first degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal mischief.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed Monday, the shooting at 5097 Old Military Road occurred after Penny allegedly confronted his roommate saying someone had been making noise in their house disturbing him. The unidentified male roommate, who said they were living in a boarding house type environment, went to another area of the property and mentioned the complaint to their landlord.

Their landlord, 71-year-old Chester Raymond Hornowski, came to talk to Penny. A few minutes later, Hornowski summoned all of the residents to the area where he and Penny were. Penny's roommate said just as he arrived, he heard multiple gunshots.

He said he saw Penny come from his room and point a pistol at Hornowski. The roommate attempted to flee the room, slipped and fell, striking his head on a table. He managed to get up, run to his room, hide by the bed and call 911. The affidavit notes this was the second call placed to 911. During the roommate's call, four shots can be heard in the background.

Officers learned through their investigation, these four shots had followed 18 previous rounds.

Penny later told officers he was in the kitchen/living area of the residence when Hornowski came inside in a rage, saying he was going to evict him. He then allegedly began punching Penny in the chest, although the report notes there were no visible marks.

Penny said he went to his room, retrieved his pistol, and came back into the hallway. The report notes the room Penny entered has both a lockable hallway door and an exit door to the outside he could have used to escape.

Returning to the room, Penny said Hornowski gestured he was going to hit him again. He said he aimed his weapon at "center mass" and continued firing until all 18 rounds were spent, with the victim falling to the floor.

Penny said he went back to his room, reloaded his weapon, returned to where the victim was on the floor and fired an additional four rounds into his body. He told officers he fired the additional four rounds because Hornowski had ruined his life.

Penny then exited to his vehicle to flee the scene. Officers were on the scene when Penny came from the back of the residence driving a truck, accelerating rapidly and heading towards a sheriff's deputy.

Two Baxter County deputies discharged their weapons at the fleeing vehicle as it was accelerating towards the deputy. The vehicle continued northbound hitting the ditch on the northeast corner of the residence becoming airborne, traveling approximately 36 feet before hitting the pavement then becoming airborne again striking the Baxter County Sheriff’s Tahoe was parked on the side of the road. The vehicle traveled a short distance and stopped.

Penny was taken out of the vehicle, transported by ambulance to Baxter Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released for minor injuries he sustained in the crash.

The victim was found deceased in the home with gunshot wounds to the hands, chest and face.

A search of the residence revealed a Smith and Wesson 9mm semiautomatic pistol, along with other evidence.

Penny is being held without bond pending his appearance in Baxter County Circuit Court later this week.

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