7 killed in southern Missouri shootings; gunman also dead

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Eight people are dead after shootings in south-central Missouri on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.

TYRONE, Mo. — Someone was shooting a gun, a girl who’d just fled a home told police Thursday night. It was the first they’d learn of a massacre that’s claimed seven lives in four homes in south-central Missouri.

A 36-year-old gunman killed seven people and injured another in the small community of Tyrone before fatally shooting himself in an adjacent county, police said Friday morning.

Investigators found a ninth body — that of an elderly woman — in a fifth home while investigating the shootings, though it appears she died of natural causes, and it’s unclear how her death was otherwise connected to the case, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Kinder said.

No names or information on motives was released, and the relationship between the victims, and between the victims and the suspect, weren’t immediately known, he said.

“In our job, we see a lot of bad stuff, and this is bad,” Kinder said of the shootings. “This is also hard on the police officers who are working out there. It’s not natural to see that sort of thing.”

The shootings happened in Missouri’s Texas County, home to about 26,000 people.

A girl who’d been in one of the homes in Tyrone heard gunshots there and fled to a neighbor’s residence, where she called police, Kinder said.

After police found two bodies in the first residence, investigators found five more bodies and an injured person in three other Tyrone homes, according to Kinder.

The elderly woman who’s believed to have died of natural causes was found in a fifth residence after “investigators were somehow led to that residence after this was all placed in motion,” he said.

The suspect’s body was found in a vehicle in neighboring Shannon County, Kinder said.

Tyrone is about 135 miles southwest of St. Louis.

It wasn’t immediately clear if any of the victims were of school age, but news of the deaths has shaken the community, the superintendent of the area’s schools said Friday.

“There is a lot of speculation right now, and we just don’t have the information. The area is within the school district; these are my families,” said Scott Dill, superintendent of the Houston R-1 School District. “We run buses out there daily.”

Classes for the district’s 1,000 students are in session Friday, in part to give them a sense of normalcy, he said.

“We do have counselors available, and other offers from other districts to help out. As a small town, we all cry together. My principals are all assessing the situation now, and we will make a determination on what to do next,” Dill said.