A man has gone on a killing spree in a rural area of eastern Kentucky, killing four people at two locations before committing suicide, local officials say. It is one of the area’s worst acts of violence in recent decades.
The incident began at about 3:33 p.m. ET on Saturday when someone called 911 to report a shooting at a residence about 7 miles (11 kilometers) northwest of Paintsville, which is a small city in Johnson County, about 94 miles (151 kilometers) southeast of Lexington.
Sheriff Dwayne Price and two deputies responded to the scene, after which it was discovered that two people had been shot dead in the kitchen of a home. A witness told investigators that the suspect left the scene in a black Toyota Camry, prompting a manhunt in multiple counties.
“While canvassing the area, 911 received a tip that the subject’s vehicle was on Mill Street in Paintsville. All agencies responded and located the vehicle,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. Sheriff Price and deputies searched a nearby apartment building and located 3 bodies in one of the apartments.
One of the deceased is believed to be the suspect, who was identified as Joseph Nickell. The identities of the four victims were not immediately released pending notification of relatives. There was no word on a possible motive.
“This has been a horrific murder spree. The lives of four innocent victims were taken. The perpetrator then took his own life,” Sheriff Price said. “There are no words to describe the heartbreak in seeing 4 lives taken due to the actions of one man. I have worked in law enforcement for 34 years. This is one of the most disturbing acts of violence I have ever seen.”
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