Deputy Tyler Peterson
A respected sheriff’s deputy, Tyler Peterson, shocked the small northern of Crandon, Wisconsin town after going on a killing rampage that left six young people dead.
The 20-year-old burst into his ex-girlfriend’s house early Sunday and shot six young people to death and critically wounded another. Among the victims was Peterson’s ex-girlfriend, 18-year-old Jordanne Murray, along with a group of her friends including Katrina McCorkle, 18, Leanna Thomas, 18, Bradley Schultz, 20, Aaron Smith, age not identified, and Lindsay Stahl, 14. Nineteen-year-old Charlie Nietzel was critically wounded.
Peterson was off-duty at the time of the shooting. He had a full-time job as a Forest County deputy sheriff, and a part-time job as a Crandon police officer.
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A young deputy sheriff shot dead his ex-sweetheart, two childhood friends and three other youths at a party in this small US Midwestern town before being killed by police, authorities said.
On Saturday, he had chatted with friends in a parking lot about hunting and what was going on at the local school's "homecoming" weekend celebration. At 8:30 pm he said he was going home.
"He seemed fine," a friend who had been with him told AFP.
But sometime before 3:00 am Peterson burst into his ex-girlfriend's house and opened fire, killing her and five others, authorities said, including two of his best childhood friends and a girl of just 14.
The town of some 2,000 people near the Canadian border was then "locked down" with residents forbidden from going out on the streets as police carried out a manhunt for Peterson which did not end until Sunday afternoon.
There has been no official word on a possible motive.
The close friend countered rumors that it was a jealous rage, saying that Peterson had broken up with his girlfriend, now 18, earlier this year and she was not seeing anyone else.
"He must have just snapped," said the friend, who has known Peterson since they were in kindergarten.
Toilet paper thrown during the school's weekend partying still hung from the trees as this close-knit town tried to grapple with the slaying of the high school students and recent graduates.
The mother of the youngest victim, 14-year-old Lindsay Stahl, said she had thought her daughter would be safer spending Sunday night at a friend's house rather than driving home late at night.
Then Jenny Stahl got a knock on the door at 8:00 am from a neighbor who took her to a church to wait with the families of the other victims for news. Eight hours later, authorities read a list of the names of the dead.
"I just can't believe this ... She'll be 15 next month. She's just starting to live, and the sad thing is who killed her. You know, a cop ... cops are always supposed to protect you, I thought," Stahl said.
"This is affecting everybody in this small community," said Tom Vollmar, a local county supervisor who has lived in Crandon for 57 years. "There's no family that hasn't been touched in one way or another."
The deputy "was a good kid, likes to hunt and fish, just a normal kid and they were all real good friends," said Fay Statezny, who was friends with the families of both Tyler and some of the victims.
Kelly Flanery, 15, knew all of them and said the ex-girlfriend of the shooter "was like the nicest person. She was friends with everyone."
Cody Hanson, 17, a senior at Crandon High School in the same grade as two girls who were killed, said he knew Peterson. "I've talked to him. He just doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would do that," Hanson said.
"This is going to take a long time for a community like this to get over," Pastor Bill Farr said as he prayed with three church members who held hands in the parking lot.
"We just really need everyone's prayers right now," he said, beginning to cry.
Authorities did not release details of the killings or names of the victims, but sources identified them as Jordann Murray, 18, Peterson's former longtime girlfriend; Katrina McCorkle, 18; Leanna Thomas, 18; Lindsey Stahl, 14; Bradley Schultz, 20, and Aaron Smith, called "Chunk" by his friends.
Nineteen-year-old Charlie Nietzel was critically wounded.
Police were tight-lipped over the case, but more details may emerge at a press conference expected later on Monday.
Crandon is known for its logging, fishing, hunting and snowmobiling. It is also home to the World Championship Off-Road Races.
The killings came six months after the worst school massacre in US history, when a deranged student shot dead 30 people in a classroom building at Virginia Tech university.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported last month that more than 1.4 million murders, rapes, robberies and assaults were committed around the United States last year -- a violent crime every 22 seconds.
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