Authorities in Texas have captured a suspect in a string of gruesome late night shootings in a town just 30 miles east of Dallas that left at least five people dead and set off a dramatic manhunt.
Charles Brownlow, 36, was apprehended by Terrell, Texas police officers around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, after allegedly slaying his mother, aunt and three other people, according to NBC Dallas Fort-Worth.
“We’re all in a state of shock,” Terrell Police Chief Jody Lay told reporters, according to the Dallas Morning News. “You have a tendency to think, ‘How can that happen here?’ This is going to have a really big impact on us.”
Authorities first discovered the body of a woman who had been fatally shot in the head in a private residence near State Highway 34 just after 5 p.m. A half-hour later, authorities found another woman’s body in a burning home just a few blocks away, investigators told the station.
"The fire was very clearly an arson," Terrell police said in a statement obtained by NBC News.
Neighbors told the NBC Dallas Fort-Worth that the slain woman in the first home is Brownlow’s aunt. People who know the second victim said she is Brownlow’s mother, according to the station. But police did not immediately identify either victim early Tuesday.
A third shooting was reported at a North Francis Street home authorities believe belongs to Brownlow’s girlfriend, although no one was hurt in this incident, according to NBC Dallas Fort-Worth.
About a half-hour later, police received yet another report of a shooting at a Eulalia Drive residence, where a man and a woman were found fatally shot. A 3-year-old boy was discovered in his bed and seems to be “in good condition,” Lay told the Dallas Morning News.
Then, just after 10 p.m. Monday, Brownlow allegedly killed a clerk inside a convenience store off U.S. Highway 80. After officers in pursuit spotted him at the store, he fled in a stolen 2002 Ford Focus, according to the statement.
After police pursued Brownlow back toward the neighborhood where the shooting spree began, the suspect crashed the vehicle through a fence, escaped on foot, and fled into a wooded area, the statement said.
Authorities scoured for Brownlow in a helicopter using thermal technology, police told NBC News.
The shooting spree and manhunt in Kaufman County come nearly half a year after District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia Woodward McLelland, as well as Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse were slain.
"We've had a tough year here in Kaufman County and this makes it a little bit tougher, but we're going to get through it," Lay told the Dallas Morning News. "We're resilient, we're going to rise above it."