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A Lancaster couple traveled to the shores of Lake Erie in Chautauqua County to celebrate her birthday when something went terribly wrong.

Authorities believe that Sam H. Reynolds, 38, shot and critically wounded his girlfriend, Nicole M. Sheehan, early Thursday morning, setting off a police manhunt that ended when Reynolds apparently killed himself.

Sheehan, 29, suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was listed in critical condition at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hamot in Erie, Pa., where she was still undergoing treatment Thursday, the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office said.

“We obviously don’t have the full story. That’s what we’re working to find out,” said Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace. “But something led to the shooting of the female. We have every reason to believe the male is the perpetrator.”

Reynolds and Sheehan were a couple who traveled from Lancaster to the Barcelona area of Westfield to celebrate Sheehan’s birthday, which was Tuesday, investigators said.

The couple was renting one side of a duplex on Route 5, Gerace said.

The Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday from a neighbor who reported that Sheehan had showed up next door with a gunshot wound to the head.

Sheriff’s deputies and Westfield police responded to the duplex, where Sheehan was transported to Westfield Memorial Hospital and later to Hamot.

Authorities were not able to speak to Sheehan, but a search began when investigators learned that the suspect – Reynolds – was still in the area.

The manhunt lasted for about two hours as investigators searched in the area of Barcelona beach and marina, before sheriff’s deputies and police officers heard a gunshot near the breakwater, Gerace said.

Reynolds’ body was located on the beach, just north of the marina, as was the handgun, the sheriff said.

The investigation was continuing.

email: jrey@buffnews.com