Joseph Jesse Aldridge has been identified as the gunman who killed seven people in a door-to-door shooting spree in Missouri on February 26 before killing himself, authorities said.
According to police, the rampage may have been triggered by finding his mother dead of apparent natural causes.
Four of the victims are family members of the suspect.
Joseph Jesse Aldridge, 36, was later found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a car in a neighboring county after the killings in the rural community of Tyrone, located in the southern part of Missouri, about 90 miles east of Springfield, authorities said.
The body of a woman identified by authorities as Joseph Jesse Aldridge’s mother, 74-year-old Alice Aldridge, had been dead for 24 hours before she was found by authorities on February 26, and she is thought to have died of natural causes.
Police first learned of the rampage — which spanned six crime scenes in a three-mile radius in Tyrone — just after 10 p.m. local time on Thursday, February 26, after a juvenile female called 911 and said there were gunshots in her home.
Four of the seven victims were identified as husband and wife Darrell and Julie Aldridge and husband and wife Harold and Janelle Aldridge, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Kinder said at a news conference on February 27, adding that some were cousins of the suspect.
The other three victims were not members of the suspect’s family and have not yet been identified.
Texas County Sheriff James Sigman said during a news conference on February 27 that investigators “checked a wide area door-to-door” for additional victims. He added that investigators weren’t looking for any other suspects.
Joseph Jesse Aldridge pleaded guilty to federal charges of possessing a firearm, described as a .22-caliber pistol, while using marijuana in 2008, according to KSDK. Following his 21-month sentence, he was ordered to participate in counseling programs, the station reported. The gun Joseph Jesse Aldridge allegedly used on February 26 was a .45-caliber handgun, Sheriff James Sigman said.
A gunman has killed 8 people and injured one person in a series of shootings in south-central Missouri.
Police made the discoveries on February 26 at five different homes in or near the small town of Tyrone after an emergency call.
Officials found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gun wound in a vehicle near one of the crime scenes.
The gunman’s motive is not known at this time, and police are continuing to investigate.
“We’re currently working six active scenes including the location in Shannon County where the suspect was found deceased, “ Sergeant Jeff Kinder of the Missouri State Highway Patrol told reporters on February 27.
Residents reported that police went door-to-door on February 27 warning them to secure their homes.
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Around 22:15 local time on February 26, officers from the Texas County Sheriff’s Department responded to an emergency call from a girl claiming she heard gunshots in a home.
The girl fled to a neighbor’s house to alert the authorities. Police found two people dead in the house.
As they continued searching, they found six others dead and one injured across four other residences.
“This is a horrific tragedy, and our hearts go out to the victims of these senseless acts and their families,” Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said in a statement.
The body of the suspect, who has only been identified as a 36-year-old man from Tyrone, was discovered in vehicle in nearby Shannon County. He died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Officials have made multiple references to a woman found at one of the scenes “who appeared to have died from natural causes”. However, they have not made clear her connection to the victims or the suspect.
Texas County Coroner Tom Whittaker told The St Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper the suspect’s mother had been found dead at her home, apparently of natural causes.
She had been under a doctor’s care and appeared to have been dead for at least 24 hours, Tom Whittaker told the newspaper, adding all the victims were adults.
Authorities took the injured victim to a nearby hospital, but will not be identifying the victims until they notify next-of-kin.
Residents of the rural area were in shock.
“We’ve never had anything of this magnitude before,” said County Clerk Don Troutman, a resident of 36 years.
Scott Dill, superintendent of the school district that serves Tyrone, said the community was “holding our breath…to find out specifics”.
“We want to help people make sense of this tragedy,” Scott Dill said.