5 found shot to death in Manchester, suspect dies in hospital - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Manchester mayor`s nephew kills 5, dies in hospital

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Police said the suspect in the Manchester slayings at a home in a west-central Illinois is dead. The bodies of five people, including a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old, were found shot to death on Wednesday.

The horrific incident took place in the small town of Manchester early Wednesday morning, 50 miles west of Springfield. Nearby schools cancelled classes as police tried to determine what triggered the killings.

Shots rang out around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, in a single apartment located in a Manchester housing complex.

Police said the suspect, identified as Rick Smith, 43, of rural Morgan County, entered the home through a back door and fired at the victims at close range. Police say two victims were found in one bedroom, two in another bedroom and an adult male in a hallway.

Friends identify the dead as 64-year-old Joanne Sinclaire, her granddaughter, 22-year-old Brittany Luark, her boyfriend, Roy Ralston, and their children: 1-year-old Brantley and 5-year-old Nolan. There was one survivor -- a 6-year-old girl -- who was taken to a hospital in Springfield.

State Police Lt. Col. Todd Kilby said the gunman took the girl out of the Manchester residence and handed her to a neighbor. It's unclear why the gunman seemed to spare that girl's life.

Smith fled the scene in a White Chevy Lumina, and schools were shut down as police looked for the killer.

The car was spotted at about 7:15 a.m. and police gave pursuit. Illinois State Police Lt. Col. Todd Kilby said Smith was injured in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement personnel during the car chase in Green County. He was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Kilby said Smith was in possession of multiple weapons.

"We've already started the investigation and it is in its preliminary stages," Scott County State's Attorney Michael Hill said. "Scott County is a small community. Fortunately this type of thing does not happen here very often. But this proves that it can happen."

Two area school superintendents said they received calls from county sheriffs before 6 a.m. informing them that victims had been shot to death at a house in Manchester and that a suspect was at large. State police, local officer and SWAT teams responded overnight.

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

Roberts and Stevens said they were waiting to hear if any of the victims were children who attended schools in their districts.

Manchester Mayor Ronald Drake says the suspected gunman was his nephew.

"Really shocked," Drake says. "The sheriff's department contacted me at 6:30 this morning and said they were looking for him and not to tell anybody...to keep my mouth shut until everything was completed."

Drake tells FOX 32 News he hasn't spoken to his nephew in years and has no idea of a possible motive.  According to the Scott County State's Attorney, Smith has had a criminal past including reckless homicide and drug related charges.

Jill Osbourne says she knew the alleged gunman. She says Smith had a 4-year-old daughter with a woman who is related to all the murder victims. She says, Smith had recently accused them of hurting his daughter.

"He accused the family members of some sort of impropriety with the little girls," Osbourne says.

The small town has a population of about 300 people, located about 85 miles from St. Louis.

Police had not yet offered a possible motive for the killings.

THe Associated Press contributed to this report.

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