5 Fatally Shot in Manchester, IL; Suspect Also Dead; Authorities Investigating the Murders, Gunbattle with Police

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Published on April 24 2013 2:52 pm
Written by Wayne Moran

Family members of the five people killed in Manchester Wednesday say they're in complete shock.  Manchester is a small community located south and west of Springfield (MAP).

Brad Teeter told the "Chicago Tribune" he'd never seen Rick Smith, the man who allegedly broke into a home on East Street early Wednesday morning and shot everyone inside.

Police say two of the bodies were discovered in one bedroom, two bodies in another bedroom, and one man was discovered in the hallway. 

Based on witness statements, Smith took the six-year-old out of the residence and put her in the hands of a neighbor.

Teeter said he doesn't know why Smith killed his mother-in-law, 67-year-old Jo Ann Sinclair, her granddaughter 23-year-old Brittany Luark, Luark's boyfriend 29-year-old James Roy Ralston, and two of the couple's three kids five-year-old Nolan and one-year-old Brantley Ralston. 

The Coroner's Office has also confirmed that Brittney Luark was pregnant.

A third child, six-year-old Cassidy Ralston, survived the shooting and is being treated at a Springfield hospital.

A neighbor told the "Tribune" Smith had friction with the family because he was going through a custody battle with one of Sinclair's daughters.

Police say Smith broke into the house through the back door and shot all inside at close range with a shotgun.

Police were called to the residence about 4:30am and discovered the victims.  State police and Winchester Police spotted the suspect shortly after 7am and a pursuit followed.  After an exchange of gunfire, police took Smith into custody shortly before 7:30am.  He was wounded in the gun battle and was taken to an area hospital where he was later pronounced dead.  Officers recovered multiple weapons at the time they took Smith into custody.

As far as the pursuit and shots exchanged, police are still investigating the scene and interviewing the officers involved.  Based on preliminary investigative details, Smith exited his vehicle, pointed and fired his weapon at police.  The officers returned fire and struck the 43-year-old Smith.  He was taken to an area hospital where he died shortly after 10am Wednesday.

Scott County State's Attorney Michael Hill said Smith was no stranger to crime, including a reckless homicide conviction related to a DUI charge. 

The last homicide reported in Scott County was in 1993.  This is the first multiple homicide known to Scott County.