West Glacier Man Kills Sportsman Channel Host in Whitefish Shooting

By Beacon Staff

WHITEFISH – A Texas outdoorsman and television show personality is dead after a shooting in a Whitefish home, which police believe was soon followed by the shooter’s suicide in West Glacier.

Gregory G. Rodriguez, 43, of Sugar Land, Texas, was killed almost instantly after Wayne C. Bengston, 42, of West Glacier, shot him in the kitchen of Bengston’s mother-in-law, according to Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial.

Rodriguez, an avid outdoorsman and host of the Sportsman Channel show “A Rifleman’s Journal,” was in Whitefish on business and visiting Bengston’s wife, who was a friend he met through business tradeshows, Dial said.

According to Dial, emergency dispatch received a report of the March 7 shooting at about 10:20 p.m. Responding officers found Bengston’s wife, who said her husband had shot and killed Rodriguez.

Dial said Bengston’s wife was in Whitefish at her mother’s house – her mother was not home – on the 500 block of River Lakes Parkway.

She told investigators that Bengston entered the house, uttered a few vulgarities, and shot Rodriguez. Dial said Bengston fired at least four shots with a .44-caliber revolver from about three feet away, hitting Rodriguez in the torso, arm, shoulder and leg.

Rodriguez was not armed at the time, Dial said.

Police say Bengston then beat his wife “brutally,” likely pistol-whipping her, resulting in a concussion, various contusions and other “substantial” injuries. She was taken to the hospital, treated and released, Dial said.

After the beating, Bengston took the couple’s 2-year-old, who had been asleep downstairs when the shooting occurred, and fled the scene, Dial said.

The child was later left unharmed at Bengston’s relative’s residence in Columbia Heights, Dial said, and police do not believe the child witnessed the incident.

Bengston returned to his home in West Glacier, where responding police and Flathead County Sheriff’s deputies found his truck in the driveway. Deputies set up a perimeter and SWAT attempted to make contact, but Bengston did not reply.

Searching the residence, they found him dead at about 4 a.m. on March 8, Dial said, apparently from a single gunshot to the head from the same pistol used on Rodriguez. None of the responding officers heard the shot.

Dial said the woman reported that there had been arguments between her and her husband before, but nothing to indicate violence. The couple was not estranged, he said.

Dial said investigators believe the relationship between Rodriguez and the woman was a professional one.

Besides appearing on TV, Rodriguez was the founder and CEO of Global Adventure Outfitters. According to the outfitters’ website, he was an editor at Shooting Times Magazine and a contributing editor at Petersen’s Hunting, Guns & Ammo and Dangerous Game.

Bengston did not have a criminal record prior to this event, Dial said, and investigators have not found any indication that he was under the influence of anything at the time of the shooting.

Child Protective Services has intervened to ensure the child and mother are adequately cared for and reunited appropriately, Dial said.

The shooting is still under investigation.

This is the second shooting in Whitefish in about a month. On Feb. 2, Katherine Lanegan, 37, shot and killed her boyfriend, 42-year-old Ordean L. EngeBretson, in what police said looked to be a case of self-defense.

In the 11 years he has been police chief, Dial said there has been very little violent crime in Whitefish. There was a double homicide-suicide in his first year, he said, and then the most recent shootings.

It’s been a “very bad” time for the city, Dial said, and “we’re hoping that this is the end.”

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