UK man shoots relatives, self

2012-01-02 20:26

London - A man is suspected of shooting dead three female members of his own family before turning the gun on himself in a northeast England house on a New Year's Day rampage, police said on Monday.

Police discovered the bodies of the man, 40, and three women at the property in Peterlee after members of the public reported hearing shots in the small town late on Sunday.

A shotgun was found next to the man's body, police said, adding they were not currently looking for anyone else in connection with the killings. They said the man held a firearms licence and may have been a member of a gun club.

It is thought the family had been out and that the drama unfolded in a matter of seconds on their return to the house.

One teenage woman escaped with only minor injuries by hauling herself through an upstairs window. A male also survived the attack and is being treated as a significant witness, according to police.

"This is a tragic event. We have four people who died late last night and our thoughts and feelings are with their family and friends at this moment," Assistant Chief Constable Michael Banks from Durham Constabulary told a press conference.

"I would like to reassure our communities that the police are in control of this incident."

Asked who had carried out the shootings, Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry said: "I do believe at this point that it's the 40-year-old."

Banks said the police had had contact with the family in the past.

The news sent shock waves through the town, which was founded in the 1940s to house people working in local collieries but now suffers from high levels of deprivation following the decline of the British mining industry.

Labour party councillor Paul Stradling said the community was in shock after the "terrible news."

He said the area where the suspected shooting took place was "quiet most of the time with a little bit of anti-social behaviour but crime levels are usually low".

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