TYRONE, Mo. (CN) - Finding his mother dead may have sparked a rampage that left eight people dead Thursday in a small Missouri town, including the suspected gunman, a county coroner said.
All of the victims were 40 to 60 years old. Police said the suspected gunman, 36, shot himself. The bodies were found in four places. The names of the victims had not been released late Friday afternoon, pending notification of their families.
The suspect's mother was found dead, apparently of natural causes. The woman, in her 70s, had been dealing with an illness and apparently died from it.
Authorities say some of the victims were related to her, but did not confirm a connection with the gunman.
Texas County Coroner Tom Whittaker told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he believes the gunman came home and found his mother dead, which sparked the rampage. The mother had the same surname as some of the victims.
"We're speculating that he came home and found her deceased and then for whatever reason went on a rampage and started killing people," Whittaker told the Post-Dispatch.
"This is just so strange. Right now, with the shooter dead, we don't know. Is there something that sparked this? We're still in the information-gathering stage."
The murders shocked the small town of Tyrone, 140 miles southwest of St. Louis. Texas County has a population of 26,345 and averages perhaps one homicide a year, Whittaker said.
Highway Patrol Sgt. Paul Reinsch said the first victims were found Thursday night after a young girl heard the shots and ran to a neighbor's house and called police. Two bodies were found in the house, and five more bodies were found as police searched three other homes.
The suspected shooter's body was found in a car in neighboring Shannon County, some 25 miles from the crime scenes. Shannon County Coroner Tim Denton told the Post-Dispatch that the man had shot himself in the head.
Houston, the seat of Texas County, has a population of about 2,000. The town is about a 20-minute drive from unincorporated Tyrone.
"This is a terrible tragedy in a community that's real close-knit," Houston Mayor Don Tottingham told the Post-Dispatch. "This is a great town, and this is why it's such a tragedy, because it shows you're vulnerable to things."Follow @@joeharris_stl
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