msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/24/2011 8:12:48 PM ET 2011-12-25T01:12:48

An elderly man shot dead in a Christmas Eve massacre three members of a family who owned a laundromat in southern Italy, apparently because he was incensed by a years-long battle over the smoke and fumes emitted by the washing machines.

The ANSA news agency reports that the suspect used an automatic weapon to shoot the mother in front of the laundromat and two adult children as they tried to flee. He also seriously wounded the father, who was at home in the tiny town of Genzano Di Lucania, near Potenza and southeast of Naples, ANSA says.

The dead were identified in local media as Antoinette Di Palma, 55, and Maria Donata Menchise, 31, and Matthew Menchise, 27.

Their father, Leonardo Menchise, 60, was admitted to a hospital and reportedly had serious wounds.

The suspect, Ettore Bruscella, 77, was immediately taken into custody.

ANSA reports that Bruscella and the Menchise family had a long-running legal feud over the laundromat's chimney.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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