UK & World News

  • 10 July 2014, 21:59

Texas Man 'Kills Sister-In-Law And Her Family'

A gunman kicked down the door of his sister-in-law's home and held her five children at gunpoint until their parents arrived before slaughtering the family, say police.

Ronald Lee Haskell, 33, is charged with multiple counts of murder after Wednesday evening's massacre in the Houston suburb of Spring.

He allegedly killed two adults, four children and critically wounded a 15-year-old girl before police chased his car and cornered him.

The authoritieshave corrected preliminary reports that the gunman was the father of the slain children: the youngsters' mother was the gunman's sister-in-law.

Constable Ron Hickmansaid:"I have not personally in 40 years seen a tragedy in one family that is this horrific."

The suspect knocked on the door of the home demanding to know where he could find his estranged wife, who was out of state at the time of the killings, police say.

According to court documents, he kicked down the door when the 15-year-old girl told him her parents were not home, say investigators.

Briefing reporters outside the home, Constable Hickman saidHaskell "gathered up the children that were here and awaited the arrival of the parents.

"Some time later the victims were shot in the residence."

When police arrived at the scene at around 6pm on Wednesday, they found two adults and three children dead. Another child later died in hospital.

The dead adults were named by police as Stephen Stay, 39, and his 33-year-old wife, Katie Stay.

The children were Cassidy, 15, Bryan, 13, Emily, nine, Rebecca, seven, and Zach, four, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Police said the wounded 15-year-old was able to call 911 to warn that the suspect was en route to shoot other family members.

One neighbour Verena Beckstrand, 42, told AP news agency that Katie Stay had travelled to Utah last September to help her sister escape her relationship with Haskell.

Another resident told the Chronicle the victims were "a Mormon family. They were very sweet and their kids were very shy. This is a sad, sad day".

The gunman surrendered after a nearly three-hour stand-off with police.

He led police on a nearly half-hour pursuit, before his car was sandwiched between two police trucks in a residential cul-de-sac a few miles from the scene of the killings.

Despite being surrounded by marksmen, the suspect remained "cool as a cucumber", Sergeant Thomas Gilliland said.

There were "two hours of constant talking with a man armed with a pistol to his head and who had just killed six people," he said.

After lengthy negotiations the suspect emerged from the vehicle with his hands raised and sank to his knees before being arrested.

Investigators said Haskell had been wearing a Federal Express shirt - the company said in a statement that he formerly worked for them.