The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Police, neighbours struggling to put together pieces after 8 killed in Ohio shooting rampage

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COPLEY, Ohio - A gunman killed seven people and wounded another, before being killed himself in a gunfight with police.

Police say the gunman shot his girlfriend in one home before 11 a.m. Sunday, then ran to a next-door neighbour's house, where he shot her brother and gunned down four neighbours in the Ohio town of Copley.

He then chased four people — two through neighbouring backyards — shooting one of them before bursting into a nearby home, where two others had sought refuge.

Police said he shot his eighth victim in that home and left, only to get into a gunfight outside with a police officer and a citizen who had been a police officer. The gunman, whose name was not released, was killed.

Only one of those shot survived. Police said that victim was taken to an area hospital but did not disclose a condition or identity. None of the victims was identified and their ages were not disclosed.

Neighbours said the dead included an 11-year-old boy; a school official said he had been told two of the victims were students at the local high school. Neighbors say at least three victims were from one family.

Gilbert Elie, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 11 years, heard the gunshots and cries for help as he got ready for church. In an account that differed slightly from the police version, Elie said he went to a house across the street and found the woman who lived there lying in the driveway, her husband shot near the garage, and their young granddaughter and another woman shot in the front seat of a vehicle, the windows apparently blown out by gunfire.

A third woman came out of the house next door and tried to talk to Elie, he said, but their brief exchange ended abruptly when a man followed her out of the house and shot her, sending the 76-year-old Elie running for safety behind a truck.

"She was talking to me, and he come up behind her and shot her, so I figured, maybe I'm next," he told The Associated Press.

He hid until he could see the gunman was gone, then returned home. Police arrived, and Elie said he heard a second round of shots coming from behind the houses and assumed officers had killed the gunman.

Elie said his neighbours, Russ and Gerdie Johnson, lived across the street. He said the ordeal has left residents of their well-kept neighbourhood shaken.

"They're all in shock," said Elie.

Elie described the gunman as generally unfriendly, a rarity on the street, and said he often worked on his car outside his house but never waved at anyone.

Police, who did not have a motive, planned a news conference at noon Monday.

The neighbourhood remained blocked off by police late Sunday.

Around sunset, about 200 people assembled at a park for an impromptu candlelight vigil for the shooting victims in their town and crime victims elsewhere. Some residents said they set up a memorial fund.

Some saw a double rainbow, including Kelly Kerr Gill, who was one of more than 100 people who posted condolences on a special Facebook page set up for one of the families that apparently lost several members. "Your double rainbow sent from heaven did not go un-noticed ... was truly a sign from God that those taken are ok," she wrote.

The Rev. Jeff Bogue of the Grace Church of Greater Akron prayed with those gathered at the vigil about faith in the wake of violence.

"This is troubling Lord, why such evil would come to our little township," he said.

___

Franko reported from Columbus. Associated Press writer JoAnne Viviano in Columbus contributed to this report.

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