A gunman who shot and killed six people, with whom he had “a familial relationship”, in a pre-dawn rampage outside Philadelphia on Monday, is still at large according to police.
Suspected gunman Bradley William Stone, 35, smashed through a glass door at his ex-wife’s apartment in Harleysville at 4am on Monday morning, before firing multiple shots and killing her. He then fled with their two children, the woman’s neighbours told reporters on the scene.
Stone then moved on to the two nearby communities of Lansdale and Souderton, where he killed five people and severely injured one more.
Shortly after an explosion in Souderton, believed to have been caused by a flash-bang device used by police, somebody, understood to be a teenager, was carried out on a stretcher. However the gunman had made his escape and headed to Pennsburg where he holed himself up in a home. He has since fled from the property and is one the loose, according to authorities.
All the victims, including his ex-wife Nicole Hill, were reported to have been shot at close range.
Stone had a “familial relationship” to all the victims, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said, adding that his two children are safe.
Police are concentrating their search for Stone in and around Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, nearly 50 miles north of Philadelphia.
Stone is around 5-foot-10 inches (1.5m) and 195 pounds (88 kg), and was likely wearing military fatigues and was known to use a cane or walker, Ferman said.
Police with armoured vehicles and rifles flocked to Pennsburg after spending several hours at the home in Souderton where several victims were found. In Pennsburg, police tried to compel his surrender with a bullhorn and loud explosions.
“Bradley, this is the police department!” officers yelled throughout the standoff. “Come to the front door with your hands up. You're under arrest.”
In March 2009, Stone and his then-wife, Nicole Hill, filed for divorce.
They recently sparred over custody of their two children, with Stone filing an emergency petition 5 December. Hill responded with a counterclaim on 9 December, according to court records. The outcome of their dispute was not clear.
Hill's neighbours say they were awoken by the sounds of breaking glass and gunshots.
“She would tell anybody who would listen that he was going to kill her, and that she was really afraid for her life,” said Evan Weron, a neighbor of Hill.
Weron described Brad Stone as a former member of the military, and said Ms Stone would talk frequently about the custody dispute.
“[Ms Stone] came into the house a few times, a few separate occasions, crying about how it was very upsetting to her,” Weron said.
With Stone still at large, several school districts ordered students and teachers to shelter in place. The Souderton Area School District lifted the order after about two hours but said officials were monitoring the situation.
Additional reporting by APReuse content