Manchester Murders: Family and Neighbors React - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Manchester Murders: Family and Neighbors React

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MANCHESTER, Ill. (WGEM) -

A small Scott County community is in mourning. 

Officials say that five members of a family were shot and killed in their home. Deputies say the shooter, Rick O. Smith, 43, of rural Morgan County, also eventually died after a shootout with police.

Earlier Wednesday evening, Julie Hardwick couldn't get back to her home, since it was part of a crime scene. She lives just three doors down from where five of her neighbors were shot to death. She says she's going to miss that family, especially the kids.

"They were very friendly, kind people. The kids were outside playing on nice days and such, and they were just lovable. They liked to sit and talk," she says.

She can't believe this has happened.

"It's scary. It's a little too close to home."

It was early Wednesday morning when police say Smith, a Morgan County man with a criminal record, carried out the shootings sometime just before 4:30 a.m.

"Two bodies were discovered in one bedroom, two other bodies in a second bedroom, and the adult male was located in the hallway," says Lt. Col. Todd Kilby with the Illinois State Police.

There hasn't been a murder in Scott County in 20 years, and officials say this may be the first multiple homicide ever in the small county. Manchester is a small community of 350 where everyone is impacted, including village president Ron Drake, who is the uncle of Rick Smith.

"I was devastated by what they told me," he told reporters.

Drake says his family has suffered in this too.

"The whole family is at my house and they're grieving and consoling and all that too."

Smith's cousin Brady Milnes says he never saw this coming.

"He was always a little shy, but I never thought he was a bad guy," he said.

He says his family has reached out to the victim's family to try to start the process of recovery.

"Talked to them, some of our family has, and apologized, and it's just a bad situation overall. We just feel horrible for their family."

Autopsies are scheduled for Thursday morning in Bloomington.  Until that's done, authorities will not officially release the names of the victims.


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