A 29-year-old man is accused of fatally shooting a woman who was staying at a Brainerd Lakes Area resort, in what may have been a case of mistaken identity.
Cameron Jay Moser, of Brainerd, is charged with the second-degree murder of 46-year-old Bethany Bernatsky, a former dressage horse trainer, at the Cozy Bay Resort on Lake Edward near Nisswa on Oct. 7.
The motive for the shooting is unclear, but family members of the victim believe Moser may have intended to kill his ex-girlfriend, not Bernatsky.
According to the criminal complaint, the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of "numerous gunshots" coming from Cabin 5 at the Cozy Bay Resort at 11:04 p.m. on Oct. 7.
Deputies located Moser across the street from the resort, near the Mollie Lake RV Park, at about 11:22 p.m. He was carrying an AR-style rifle and also had a handgun, charges said.
For about 90 minutes, deputies spoke with an armed Moser. During their conversation, Moser made it back toward the resort and was eventually taken into custody at about 12:50 a.m. on Oct. 8, court documents allege.
The Crow Wing County Tactical Response Team then went to check the cabins near the reported shooting. Inside Cabin 5, an investigator saw a woman lying on the floor at the end of a hallway. A large pool of blood was under her head.
The victim was identified through a tattoo on her body as Bernatsky. She died of multiple gunshot wounds, including to her body and one to her head.
The charges against Moser to not state a motive or whether he knew Bernatsky. The complaint did say Moser was familiar with the Cozy Bay Resort because he used to have a relationship with the previous owner's daughter. The week before the shooting, Moser showed up at the nearby RV park, which his ex's father owns, asking about her.
The Star Tribune says the sheriff's office is investigating whether the incident was a case of mistaken identity. Sheriff Scott Goddard said "one of the scenarios" they're working on is whether Moser actually meant to shoot the previous owner's 26-year-old daughter.
Bret Jevning, the owner of the RV park and former owner of the resort, told the paper Moser didn't like that his ex had overcome her drug abuse. While Bernatsky's brother told the paper Moser "killed the wrong person," noting they look similar.
Bring Me The News has reached out to the sheriff's office for additional details. Sheriff Goddard said, "The investigation is still active and any and all possibilities are being explored. At this point, that is the only information that is available."