5 people shot to death in small Illinois town

5 people shot to death in small Illinois town

5 people shot to death in small Illinois town

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Associated Press

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 24 at 5:17 PM

MANCHESTER, Ill. (AP) — Five people were found shot to death Wednesday at a house in a tiny west-central Illinois town and a suspect was fatally wounded in a police chase and exchange of gunfire with officers, authorities said.

Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said the five found dead at the house in Manchester were homicide victims, but could not confirm how they died. State Police Lt. Col. Todd Kilby said a 6-year-old girl was found alive. Molly Wilson, a spokeswoman for St. John's Hospital in Springfield about 50 miles away, said the girl was in serious condition.

Authorities have not provided any details about the people killed.

Manchester Mayor Ronald Drake, who lives a block from the house, said five people were fatally shot at about 4:30 a.m.

Officers responded after a neighbor called 911 to report gunshots coming from the home, Drake said. The neighbor described the vehicle leaving the house and police issued an alert, the mayor said.

When police spotted the vehicle with the suspect "there was a shootout and police shot him," Drake said.

In a brief statement to reporters, Kilby said the suspect, who had several weapons, was pronounced dead at a hospital after the chase and gunfire exchange. He did not identify the suspect or describe the relationship between the suspect and the victims, and he declined to speculate on a possible motive for the killings. He refused to take questions.

In Manchester, yellow police tape surrounded the small one-story brick home where the victims were found. Manchester is a Scott County community of about 300 residents.

Manchester resident Julie Hardwick, 48, said she lives in the same county housing authority complex as the shooting victims. Authorities told her she can't return to her home yet because of the investigation, she said. Speaking to a reporter a few blocks from her home, Hardwick said she hadn't heard anything because her TV was on and didn't realize anything unusual had happened until she saw police cars outside her window.

"This shows tragedy can happen anywhere," said the Rev. Robin Lyons of Manchester United Methodist Church, one of two churches in the community.

Two area school superintendents said they received calls from county sheriffs before 6 a.m. informing them that five people had been shot to death at a house in Manchester and that a suspect was at large.

Superintendent David Roberts of the Winchester School District and Les Stevens of the North Greene Unit District No. 3 both said they immediately canceled classes when they were told of the shootings and that other school districts did the same.

Roberts said the wounded girl is a student at Winchester Grade School and her teacher was with her at the Springfield hospital.

The school will use its own counselor, nurse and other staff members to help students who need to talk, Roberts said. Other area districts have offered to help too.

Roberts said he also will call on area ministers to be available on campus. "I've found that to be helpful in the past," he said.

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Associated Press writers Don Babwin and Jason Keyser in Chicago and David Mercer in Champaign, Ill., contributed to this report.

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