PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Pennsylvania authorities hunting for a U.S. soldier accused of killing four people and opening fire on police officers have found the man’s body after he apparently took his own life, police said on Sunday.
Police and prosecutors said the body they believed to be of Army Capt. Leonard John Egland, 37, of Fort Lee, Virginia, was found behind a vacant business at a major intersection of Warwick Township.
Chief Mark Goldberg of the Warwick Township Police Department said a handgun and a rifle were found near the body, and said officials believe the man shot himself. He said Egland had served several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
SWAT teams in suburban Bucks County had been searching for Egland after he was accused of killing his former mother-in-law, Barbara Ruehl, 66, of Buckingham Township, by shooting her in the head at close range.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said Egland had his 6-year-old daughter in his pickup truck outside Ruehl’s house at the time.
After the killing, Egland drove his daughter to St. Luke’s Hospital in nearby Quakertown, leaving her in the emergency room there along with a note that suggested he was contemplating suicide, Heckler said.
The daughter is now in the custody of the county’s Children and Youth Social Services Agency. Local media reported that the girl told hospital workers her grandmother had gone to heaven.
The note Egland left later led detectives to contact police in Virginia to suggest they check the home where Egland’s former wife Carrie, 36, lived. There, according to Heckler, police found Carrie Egland’s body, along with that of her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s son.
Heckler, who said the search for Egland took place at the height of Hurricane Irene, said police had tracked Egland down as he drove his truck against traffic on a divided highway near Doylestown around midnight on Saturday.
He said Egland opened fire on the officers, getting off about 10 rounds, hitting one officer in the wrist and firing another shot through the windshield of a squad car. But he got away.
Early on Sunday, a passerby spotted Egland’s truck near a vacant business in Warwick Township, Heckler said. A police SWAT team was dispatched. Heckler added that Egland again fired on police, who did not return fire.
Soon after, police heard a second shot, and were unsure in the darkness and rain whether Egland was firing at them. Egland’s body was found in a vacant lot later in the day.
Local media reported that Egland’s body lay undiscovered for hours as police responded to tips from people who said they had spotted him in the area.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)