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5 Family Members Shot Dead in Manchester, Illinois

April 24, 2013 by Brett Wilkins in Crime & Punishment with 0 Comments

Brittney Luark and her sons Brantley and Nolan Ralston (Photo: Facebook)

Brittney Luark and her sons Brantley and Nolan Ralston (Photo: Facebook)

A grandmother, a young couple and their two sons were found shot dead in a home in a small Illinois town on Wednesday morning. The suspected gunman was killed in a shootout with police during a chase.

The deadly mass shooting occurred in Manchester, a town of about 350 residents located about 50 miles southwest of the state capital Springfield, sometime before 4:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Police arrived at the home, discovering a male suspect who attempted to flee. A car chase ensued, during which the suspect exchanged gunfire with officers. He was shot and wounded just before being captured at around 7:30 a.m. and rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“Shots were exchanged, police took suspect in custody while he was in possession of multiple weapons,” Illinois State Police Captain Todd Kilby told reporters. “There is no reason to believe there is any further danger to the communities, or that there are any other suspects,” he added.

The shooting victims have been identified as 65-year-old Joanne Sinclair, her 22-year-old granddaughter Brittney Luark, her boyfriend James Roy Ralston and the couple’s two sons, 5-year-old Nolan Ralston and Brantley Ralston, who was just 1. Another one of their children, 7-year-old Kassidy Ralston, was also shot but survived and is hospitalized in serious condition.

Although authorities have not officially released the name of the suspected shooter, relatives and neighbors identified him as 43-year-old Rick Smith of nearby Roodhouse, the Chicago Tribune reports. Smith’s relationship to his victims is currently not known.

Illinois State police have not said what motivated the shooter. A neighbor told the Tribune that he was going through a custody battle with the mother of their 4-year-old daughter, who is Sinclair’s daughter.

“He was under a lot of stress… there was a lot of problems with custody with the daughter,” the neighbor said, describing Smith as a jack-of-all-trades who “did odd jobs for people” and “could fix anything.”

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