By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
---- — HOUSTON — More information has emerged about the fatal shooting of Greg Rodriguez, a big-game hunting expert and host of TV’s “A Rifleman’s Journal.”
Rodriguez, 43, of Sugar Land, Texas, was shot and killed about 10:30 p.m. Thursday at a house in rural Whitefish, Mont., which he was visiting for his show, according to a statement released by local police to the Los Angeles Times.
“Rifleman’s Journal” on the Sportsman Channel has focused on Rodriguez’s specialty, big-game hunting in exotic locations all over the world, along with marksmanship tips to viewers.
Police said Rodriguez had just arrived in the Whitefish area in northwestern Montana near Flathead National Forest and was visiting a female friend who was staying with her mother. The Daily Inter Lake identified the woman as Lindsey Bengtson, 30.
The woman told police that Rodriguez was with her and her 2-year-old son at the house Saturday night when her husband, Wayne, 41, arrived, shot Rodriguez and “brutally beat” her.
The Missoulian reported that Wayne Bengston, who records show was a registered hunter, was armed with a .44-caliber revolver, pistol-whipped his wife and shot Rodriguez multiple times from about 3 feet away.
Wayne Bengtson fled with his infant son in his truck, left the child unharmed at a relative’s house and drove about 25 miles home to the Montana resort town of West Glacier, where officers later found him dead, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
The woman, who was treated and released from a local hospital after the shooting, works for a local firearms manufacturer, records show, met Rodriguez at a trade show and struck up a casual relationship, Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial told the Los Angeles Times.
Dial said Wayne Bengtson “was a jealous husband,” that there were “some indications” his wife and Rodriguez were involved, but that he could not comment on the pair’s relationship, referring questions to Bengtson’s wife, who could not be reached Monday.
Dial said no one has been charged in the shooting, which he called a “pretty clear-cut homicide-suicide, tragic for both families.”
Officials at the Sportsman Channel released a statement saying they were “deeply saddened” by Rodriguez’s “sudden untimely death.”
“He truly epitomized Sportsman Channel’s position of being a leader in the outdoors,” they said, noting that Rodriguez owned an outfitting business, Global Adventure Outfitters, and contributed to outdoor publications including Petersen’s Hunting, Guns & Ammo and Shooting Times.
“He was a well-known authority on big-game hunting,” they said, and received honors in January for “Best Instructional/Educational Program” at the Sportsman Choice Awards.
The statement said colleagues “will miss his thoughtfulness, candor and dedication to encourage a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for all.”
Rodriguez’s supporters and fans have been posting condolences and airing their grief over his death on social media.
“Words cannot express everyone’s feelings as we mourn the loss of a friend to all, father and husband, hunter and conservationist. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” David Kelly, a spokesman for Safari Club International, posted on Rodriguez’s Facebook page, noting that Rodriguez served with distinction in the Tucson-based hunters’ group.
Rodriguez is survived by his wife, Lisa, and two children. In a statement to the Times, the family described Rodriguez as “a wonderful husband, father, son, brother and friend. … We love him and will miss him dearly.”
Funeral arrangements were pending, the family said.