The lives of seven people, including that of an 11 year old, were snuffed out in a rampage on Sunday by a gunman whom police later killed in a small town in Ohio, according to reports.
It is believed that the deadly violence, which began around 11 a.m., had its origin in a domestic dispute that left bodies scattered across a quiet neighborhood in Copley Township, a town of about 14,000 people outside Akron, about 40 miles south of Cleveland in northeast Ohio.
The Agence France-Presse reported that Gilbert Elie came outside when he heard the gunshots and moaning to find the bloodied bodies of two of his neighbors — a woman and her husband — lying in their driveway. When Elie went to check on them, he saw a woman lying over a teenaged girl, as if to protect her, inside a black minivan. They both looked dead and Elie told his wife to call the police.
Another neighbor then came outside and asked him what was going on.
"I was talking to her when her boyfriend came out of the house behind her and shot her three or four times," he told the Akron Beacon Herald.
Elie jumped behind a car and when he peeked out from behind it, he saw the woman "fall off the porch and down the steps," according to AFP.
Police sirens were soon heard in the quiet town along with more shots, and people began running behind the houses through the nearby woods, accoridng to AFP.
When police got to the scene, they saw the gunman running and pursued him, after which the suspect "engaged the officers in gunfire and the suspect has been killed as well," Copley Police Chief Michael Mier told the paper.
Mier later told reporters that authorities have "four scenes that we're processing."
"We understand that at some point in time the shooter was chasing somebody," he said, according to AFP.
The death toll could rise to nine, as mier said another badly wounded victim was taken to hospital, the news agency reported.
Police have not yet released the identities of the victims, but mourners have identified them as members of the Johnson family.
Mier told CNN affiliate WJW that the shooting began after an argument in a residence. Five people were killed at the home. Two more were killed on a nearby road, Mier said.
AFP said the sixth victim was found in a different home on the same street. While the seventh was found in a home on Goodenough Avenue and an eighth victim found somewhere between those locations.
CNN reported that a woman who lives near the scene of the shootings described how one of the gunman's would-be victims fled.
"Somebody knocked on my door and a woman was at my porch, hiding on my porch," Brenda McCrady told WJW.
According to that report, when McCrady opened the door, the woman ran inside and told McCrady, "somebody had shot her husband point blank in the head. ... And then she started screaming, 'My son, my son, my 11-year-old son.' "