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Gunman kills three at Missouri apartment, then himself

Gunman kills three at Missouri apartment, then himself

December 1st, 2010 in News

BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) - A gunman open fired at an eastern Missouri apartment complex Tuesday, killing three people but leaving two children unharmed before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.

Bonne Terre Police Chief Doug Calvert said he found a 37-year-old woman and her 32-year-old boyfriend dead inside a duplex at Boulder Creek Apartments in Bonne Terre, about 45 miles southwest of St. Louis. He also found a 3-year-old boy who didn't appear to be harmed.

"I grabbed the child in my arms and handed him off to officers to drive to safety," Calvert said.

Outside the duplex, Calvert found another woman shot in a sport utility vehicle. He said she appeared to have been trying to protect a second young child who was in the vehicle. The 18-month-old boy was taken away to safety while the 19-year-old woman was rushed to a hospital, where she died, he said.

Calvert said he saw a man running away from the duplex toward a highway, but as police approached, the 25-year-old shot himself in nearby woods.

The names of the victims and suspected gunman haven't been released, and Calvert didn't disclose where the children were taken.

"This is a tragic event," the chief said. "It's not something that normally happens in the city of Bonne Terre. Not something that normally happens in any city."

Calvert said the victims likely knew each other, though investigators were still trying to determine their relationships with the children and the shooter. It wasn't immediately clear who lived in the duplex where the bodies were found, but Calvert said at least two of the victims lived there.

Jesse Smith, 30, said he lives across the street from the duplex, but left for work shortly before the shooting. Smith said he frequently saw the young woman who lived there, and she was often fighting with a man.

"I saw them arguing a million times," he said.

Smith said he often noticed the couple's older child playing outside unattended, even when it was pouring rain. While domestic arguments were frequent at the duplex, Smith said, he never saw or heard about physical violence taking place there. He said the neighborhood was quiet, the duplexes were new and that police never visited the neighborhood.

Investigators suspect domestic violence, but Calvert said he had no record of his officers being dispatched to the home on previous calls. Earlier Tuesday, the local coroner said authorities had been called to the duplex in the last week or two.