A gunman killed three relatives in a surprise attack witnessed by several children in a home in eastern Tennessee, authorities said.
The 19-year-old attacker was shot and wounded by another family member during his getaway and was captured a short time later, the Sullivan County sheriff’s office said.
A half-dozen children were in the home during the shooting spree and one girl was injured, Sheriff Wayne Anderson said.
Leading up to the rampage, the assailant parked his vehicle nearby, walked up a steep hill and opened fire when he reached the house near Bristol, Tennessee, Anderson said Sunday.
“From what I’ve seen and heard, he just took `em by surprise,” Anderson said. “It just all happened real fast.”
Two women with gunshot wounds were found in the kitchen when authorities arrived Saturday evening, he said. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
A man found on the front porch with gunshot wounds was airlifted to a hospital, where he later died, the sheriff said.
“It’s the most horrific thing I think I’ve seen,” Anderson said.
Authorities had not yet identified the victims.
The suspect was identified as Robert Seth Denton of Bristol, Tennessee. Denton was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and felony reckless endangerment, the sheriff’s office said. Denton was related to the victims, he said.
Investigators were trying to determine a motive.
The six children were in the living room when the rampage began and witnessed the shootings, the sheriff said.
One child suffered a non-life threatening injury, Anderson said.
“There might be some shrapnel or something else that entered her leg as a result of the shooting,” he said. “He didn’t turn the gun on her. Something ricocheted or a fragment went into her leg.”
Darrell Grey said he was on his patio next door when the shooting began. He said he heard a barrage of 10 to 12 gunshots and screaming. The rampage lasted less than a minute, he said.
“Everything happened so fast,” he said in a phone interview Sunday. “It was just a barrage of `pow, pow, pow.'”
It’s not unusual to hear gunshots from hunters in the rural area, Grey said.
“But this time we knew it was something different because it was too many shots together,” he said.
After the gunfire ended at the house, Grey said, he saw a man running down the long driveway.
Another relative of the alleged gunman caught up to him and shot him in the left shoulder during the getaway, the sheriff said.
“Somehow this other family member got down to the bottom (of the driveway) and shot him in the car while the guy was driving away,” Anderson said.
The suspect drove a short distance before stopping and asking someone to call 911, the sheriff said. Denton was taken into custody about a half-mile from where the shootings occurred.
Denton was treated at a local hospital and then taken to jail, the sheriff’s office said.