Police investigators are piecing together the details of a shooting spree in south-central Missouri that left eight people, including the suspected gunman, dead from gunshot wounds in at least four different homes.
One victim was injured and taken to the hospital, and an elderly woman found dead in one of the possible crime scenes died of natural causes, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The gunman, described by police only as a 36-year-old man, shot himself in a car in Shannon County.
The shooting in Tyrone, in Texas County, left so many people dead -- one gunman, seven gunshot victims and a woman found dead of natural causes -- that a Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman couldn't keep them all straight during a 9 a.m. press conference there.
"Isn't that terrible?" as he tried to keep track. "I lose count."
It all started Thursday night at 10:15 p.m., when a juvenile female in a home in Tyrone, which is about 165 miles southwest of St. Louis, fled to a neighbor's house and called police to report gunshots, according to highway patrol. Responding deputies discovered two people dead from gunshot wounds.
Further investigation revealed five additional victims, all dead from gunshot wounds, in three additional homes in Tyrone. Police took one person who'd been shot and injured to the hospital, and there was no update on the victim's status.
Highway patrol didn't release any details about the victims, gunman or elderly woman found dead, calling the investigation "very preliminary." The highway patrol, which is assisting the Texas County Sheriff's Office in the investigation, said it will wait for next-of-kin notification before releasing identifying information.
Neighbors told a local newspaper, the Houston Herald, that police knocked on their doors at 3:45 a.m. Friday morning checking for fatalities or injured people. Police told neighbors to stay indoors and not to open the door to strangers.
This story is breaking, and Daily RFT will update with more information.
Update, 10:20 a.m.: Here's the statement from Governor Jay Nixon on the shootings:
This is a horrific tragedy, and our hearts go out to the victims of these senseless acts and their families. The Missouri State Highway Patrol has been on site and assisting local law enforcement since the initial call late last night and will continue to assist local law enforcement agencies. Our Department of Mental Health has also contacted the local community mental health center to ensure that crisis intervention services will be provided to students in the area, and that counseling and other services will continue to be available to citizens in need. I ask all Missourians to join us in sending thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families and loved ones.
Update, 10:40 a.m.: The shooting victims include three women and four men, ranging in age from early 40s to mid 60s, Texas County Coroner Tom Whittaker tells the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Whittaker suspects the gunman started the shooting spree after finding his mother, who was in her 70s, dead on a couch from an illness for which she'd been under a doctor's care, he told the newspaper.
"We're speculating that he came home and found her deceased and then for whatever reason went on a rampage and started killing people," Whittaker said to the P-D. "This is just so strange. Right now, with the shooter dead, we don't know. Is there something that sparked this? We're still in the information-gathering stage."
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