An off-duty sheriff’s deputy who killed six people apparently shot himself three times, with the last shot hitting him in the right side of the head, the state attorney general said Tuesday.
Tyler Peterson, 20, shot himself twice under the chin before firing the third and fatal shot, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said. Peterson also was shot once in the left biceps from a distance.
The six people who died early Sunday were either students or recent graduates of Crandon High School, where Peterson also had graduated. They were at the house to share pizza and watch movies during the school’s homecoming weekend.
Peterson died in the woods near a friend’s home in Argonne. The lone survivor, Charlie Neitzel, was in fair condition Tuesday after surgery to remove debris from his wounds, said Karla David, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield.
Van Hollen said Peterson went to Jordanne Murray’s home about 2 a.m. and argued with her after accusing her of dating someone else. Murray demanded Peterson leave, and he did, only to return with an AR-15 rifle.
“He didn’t speak, he simply opened fire,” Van Hollen said.
Investigators found three bodies on or next to a couch — Lindsey Stahl, 14; Aaron Smith, 20, and Bradley Schultz, 20. Murray, 18, was found in the kitchen.
Lianna Thomas, 18, was found in a closet, and Katrina McCorkle, 18, was just outside it. Both had apparently been trying to hide, Van Hollen said.
The last person shot was Neitzel, 21, who pleaded with Peterson after the first shot, only to have him fire again, Van Hollen said. Neitzel fell to the floor, where he lay still as Peterson fired a third time.
“Playing dead until Peterson left, Neitzel survived,” Van Hollen said.
It wasn’t clear whether Peterson was struck in the biceps before or after he shot himself.
The shootings devastated Crandon, a tight-knit town of 2,000, where many people knew at least one of the victims.
“It’s an unbelievable, nightmarish thing,” said Pastor Bill Farr of Praise Chapel Community Church, which all of the victims’ families attend. “I keep thinking, like many of the families, that I’m going to wake up and this is not something that happened, that it’s just going to be normal again. That’s not going to be the case.”
The victims’ families have met with Peterson’s family and “hold no animosity toward them,” Van Hollen said.
The families, the church and the town’s one funeral home were still working on funeral arrangements Tuesday. Farr’s wife, Sjana Farr, said Peterson’s family had requested his funeral be last out of respect for the victims’ families.