By Nomaan Merchant
TERRELL, Texas — Police arrested a 36-year-old man early Tuesday who is suspected of killing five people during a rapid series of attacks hours earlier in a rural North Texas community.
An officer spotted the suspect's car late Monday outside of a convenience store in Terrell, a city about 30 miles east of Dallas. While calling it in, the suspect ran from the store to his car, leading to a high-speed chase and, eventually, to his arrest, police Chief Jody Lay said at a news conference.
"We're all in a state of shock," Lay said. "You have a tendency to think, 'How can that happen here?' This is a country community, a rural community, people are real close. This is going to be, it's going to have a really big impact on us."
Lay didn't release the victims' names or discuss any relationship they may have had to the suspect. He also didn't disclose the charges the suspect faces or a possible motive for the attacks, which began at around 5 p.m. Monday when woman was gunned down at a Terrell home. She had been shot in the head.
About 30 minutes later, fire units responded to a blaze at a house a few blocks away. When the fire was extinguished, crews found a woman's body in the smoldering wreckage. Lay said it was clearly arson.
At about 10:30 p.m., police responding to a call about a shooting elsewhere in Terrell found the bodies of a man and a woman who had been shot and a 3-year-old boy who wasn't harmed. The child was released to relatives, Lay said.
At this point a description of the stolen vehicle the suspect was believed to be driving was released to officers and, just minutes later, an off-duty police officer saw that vehicle parked outside a convenience store. As the officer called in the sighting, the suspect ran from the store, jumped in the vehicle and sped away, Lay said. A high-speed police chase ensued. The suspect wrecked the car and took off on foot into thick woods, dropping a holster or handgun on the way, Lay said.
A police helicopter and dogs were summoned to assist in the manhunt, and the suspect was found hiding in a creek.
The fifth victim, a male clerk, was found slain at the convenience store.
Lay did not name the victims and did not provide details of their relationships to the suspect.
"We're still in the process of putting this massive investigation together. We're still making sure that surviving family members are appropriately notified," Lay said.
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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press