Eight people were found dead overnight in an apparent mass murder and suicide in rural southern Missouri, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said on Friday.
Seven people were thought to be victims of one man who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a statement by the highway patrol. One elderly woman was found dead of what appeared to be natural causes during an investigation.
The events unfolded around 10 p.m. Thursday night when the Texas County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call about a disturbance involving a weapon at a residence in Tyrone. A girl called authorities, saying she had fled to a neighbor's house after hearing gunshots in her home.
Deputies found two dead in the residence. After further investigation, authorities said they found five other victims and one person who was wounded in three other homes in Tyrone.
A 36-year-old man from Tyrone, considered the suspect in the case, was found dead in a vehicle in nearby Shannon County. It appeared the man shot himself, the highway patrol said. He was not immediately identified.
Authorities did not say how the victims might have been related, or provide a motive for the killings.
Houston School District Superintendent Scott Dill said the killings shocked the small community.
"My students and my teachers are very upset. I have a lot of very upset children," Dill said. "Everybody knows everybody here. We all cry together."
The Houston School district is in Texas County and has about 1,100 students.
The killings took place in a thinly populated, rural part of the state, near the Mark Twain National Forest. The region is known to attract tourists for its hunting, camping, and river rafting.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)