Man kills seven in gun spree after death of mother
A LONE gunman who went door-to-door in a tiny Missouri town, shooting dead seven people before killing himself, may have conducted the rampage after discovering his dead elderly mother on her sofa.
Three women and four men, ranging in age from their early 40s to mid 60s, were murdered in the killing spree in Tyrone, a southern rural Missouri town so small that it has no traffic light.
Several of the victims were reportedly related - including a husband and wife - but the authorities have not revealed a connection with the gunman.
Tom Whittaker, the coroner for Texas county in the state's rural south, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that before the suspect was found dead, police went to his mother's home to look for him.
They found his mother dead on the sofa of apparent natural causes, he said. She was believed to have died at least 24 hours earlier.
The woman had the same surname as some of the victims, Mr Whittaker added, and police were investigating whether her death may have sparked the rampage.
"We're speculating that he came home and found her deceased and then for whatever reason went on a rampage and started killing people," Mr Whittaker told the newspaper.
"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."
The 36-year-old gunman was discovered in a neighbouring county, dead of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt Jeff Kinder said.
Tyrone is a roadside town of 2,000 in south-central Missouri, in a 97pc white county in which one in five inhabitants live below the poverty line.
Yellow police tape surrounded one of the crime scenes, a simple one-storey white house with a small front porch, sitting amid a blanket of snow under a blue sky.
First word about the shootings came early yesterday morning when a young female called the Texas County Sheriff's Office.
She said she had heard gunshots in one of the houses, and fled to a neighbour's house to notify the authorities, Mr Kinder said.
"Responding deputies found two deceased persons" at that first house, the spokesman said, then five other victims in three other residences.
Police knocked on the doors of other Tyrone homes in the early hours of yesterday, telling residents to stay inside and not to open their doors to strangers, the Herald newspaper in Houston, Missouri reported. (© Daily Telegraph London)