A Pennsylvania electrician fatally shot his daughter and wounded his wife and son before killing himself early Thursday, but police were at a loss to explain why.
Homicide detectives found no sign of a struggle and said they have found no letters or other items explaining why James Edwards, 52, shot his family, their dog and then himself shortly after 3 a.m. inside their Shaler Township home.
“It looks like the children were in their respective rooms. He went from room to room, for lack of a better term, and shot all the people,” Allegheny County police Lt. Andrew Schurman said. “We might never know exactly why.”
The gunman's wife, Charlene Edwards, was conscious when police arrived and did not mention any marital problems, police said.
The county medical examiner planned autopsies Thursday on Edwards and his slain 19-year-old daughter, Laurin Edwards. Charlene Edwards, 51, and the couple's 21-year-old son, also named James, were taken to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. They were listed in critical condition but were expected to survive.
Authorities discovered two revolvers they believe Edwards used. The Associated Press found no criminal or civil court records indicating any family or legal trouble involving any of the family members.
The shootings dumbfounded neighbors on a quiet street in this hilly, wooded suburb just northeast of the city.
Jeff Sanders, a next-door neighbor for more than 15 years, said he heard only a faint dog bark as he got up for work, only to see police and emergency vehicles arriving, and paramedics tending to the shooter's wife, who worked as a nurse.
“It's like a bad dream,” Sanders said.
Linda Behrhorst, who lives across the street, was among those who knew the family and described their children as polite and successful. Laurin Edwards was studying to be a physician's assistant at St. Francis University in Loretto while her brother was in the pharmacy program at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
“Those kids were the most wonderful kids you would ever want,” Behrhorst said. “Why anyone would hurt them is unbelievable.”
The family had celebrated Laurin Edwards' birthday on Wednesday and Sanders, who spoke with her father that night, said, “Everything seemed fine.”