Man kills five of his family members in shooting and fire rampage at home

Investigators had to use dental records and DNA testing to identify the bodies in East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania

Dan Gooding
Thursday 29 February 2024 17:34 GMT
The crime scene on fire (top) and the victims Natalya, Xavier, and Nakayla Le (left); Britni McLaughlin-Le and Xuong Le (right)
The crime scene on fire (top) and the victims Natalya, Xavier, and Nakayla Le (left); Britni McLaughlin-Le and Xuong Le (right) (Xuong Le/Facebook/Lansdowne Fire Company)

A Pennsylvania man fatally shot his brother, his sister-in-law and two of their children, before setting their home on fire, killing their third child.

Canh Le, 43, also shot two police officers before turning the gun on himself in East Lansdowne on the afternoon of 7 February.

In an update on the case on Wednesday, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer described the incident as “an absolute, unmitigated tragedy”.

Mr Stollsteimer explained that on 7 February, Mr Le got into an argument with his 13-year-old niece Nakayla and went into his bedroom to retrieve a gun.

Police were initially called by Mr Le’s father, who lived in the home, asking them to come and help the girl.

However, Mr Le then shot his brother Xuong Le, 40, his sister-in-law Britni McLaughlin-Le, 37, and two of the couple’s children: Natalya, 17, and Nakayla, 13.

When officers arrived, Mr Le shot at officers, injuring two of them. Police then returned shots, the DA said.

Mr Le then set fire to the family home and his 10-year-old nephew Xavier died from smoke inhalation. The 43-year-old then shot himself dead before law enforcement could get to him.

The remains of the Le family home in East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania as seen on 8 February 2024 (Getty)

“My heart goes out to the McLaughlin and Le families,” the DA said. “There’s nothing we can say that will ever heal their wounds, but we wanted to offer some closure today.”

At one point during the fire, officers tore down the front of the property to try and let any survivors escape. Mr Stollsteimer said that it was likely by that point that all five relatives were dead.

Investigators had to use dental records to identify the children, while DNA matches needed to be found to identify the three adults, because of the damage caused by the blaze.

The grandparents, who lived in the home, both survived the incident. Mr Stollsteimer said that everything they had in the world had been destroyed.

“My understanding is they came from South Vietnam after the fall of the South Vietnamese government, so they came here as refugees to build a new life and they did so in a beautiful community,” the DA added. “And in one fell swoop, for some unanswerable reason, everything that they held dear is now gone.”

The two police officers who were injured are recovering, Mr Stollsteimer told reporters.

A GoFundMe was set up to support Ms McLaughlin-Le’s side of the family, with the page describing the couple killed as being “happily married for 17 years” and calling the mother a “real-life superwoman”.

Natalya was a senior in high school and was interested in crafting and graphic design, the page said. Nakayla was “a dancing superstar”, while Xavier was “a protective brother and cousin”.

The DA said that the criminal investigation was wrapping up, and questions around why Mr Le chose to act in this way may never be answered.

“Everybody wants to know why. I don’t think we will ever get an answer. Canh Le took that answer to his grave,” Stollsteimer said.

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