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"To lose several [family members] at once to unexpected violence is unimaginable," the local sheriff said of the crime

By Benjamin VanHoose
March 17, 2020 11:32 AM
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Authorities believe one man killed six family members before shooting himself over the weekend.

On Sunday, a shooting at a group of homes in the small community of Moncure, North Carolina, left seven relatives dead, according to the Associated Press. The local sheriff’s department suspects that Larry Don Ray, 66, pulled the trigger on the others before also fatally shooting himself.

Though a motive is still unclear in the ongoing investigation, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said the evidence currently points to Ray, the Courier-Tribune reports.

According to the AP, the victims ranged in age from 39 to 93 and were identified as Helen Mason, 93, Ellis Mansfield, 73, Jeanie Ray, 67, Lisa Mansfield, 54, John Paul Sanderford, 41, and Nicole Sanderford, 39.

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims of this terrible tragedy. To lose any family member is devastating, but to lose several at once to unexpected violence is unimaginable,” Sheriff Mike Roberson said in a statement, per the outlet. “There are no words to describe the sense of loss we feel as a community in the wake of this terrible event.”

A representative from the Chatham County Sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

In a 911 call obtained by The News & Observer, a boy — who reportedly called from an upstairs bedroom in one of the Moncure Flatwood homes — hides in a closet as he hears gunfire, telling the operator, “There’s a guy in my house shooting right now.”

The teen, who said his mother and father were in the house at the time, describes the scene to the 911 operator when he comes from within the closet after hearing the situation go quiet.

“Oh my god — blood everywhere,” he says in the recorded phone call, according to the newspaper.

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Described as a “quiet, close-knit community where violence is out of the norm” by the sheriff’s department, authorities assured that community members would rally in support of those affected by the tragedy.

“In Chatham County, when one of us hurts, we all hurt, and we pull together,” said Roberson. “We can’t undo what has happened, but we can surround this family and each other with love and support as we decide where to go from here.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.