By Ed Runyan
Two Campbell police officers responded to a chaotic scene at 1:04 p.m. Saturday, finding four shooting victims inside a home at 47 Seventh St. and the suspect fleeing through the backyards with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, police said.
A shooting on 7th street in Campbell occurred around 1:00 p.m. Saturday resulting in a house fire and leaving five people with gun shot wounds.
Police believe all of the victims and the suspect are related and the shooter lived at the residence, but the nature of the relationships are not yet known.
As one officer chased down and arrested the male suspect, the other officer attended to the victims on the first and second floors until ambulance personnel arrived.
Three women — one older, one middle-aged and one young — had each suffered a single gunshot wound to the torso, causing serious injuries, police said. The fourth victim, a young male, had been shot in the arm.
The suspect is about 30 years old, police said.
All were transported to local hospitals for treatment, and all were still alive as of 11 p.m., but their names were not being released. Police were preparing charges against the suspect, but the specific charges were not available at 11 p.m., they said.
The situation took another unexpected turn a short time after the suspect was apprehended when officers realized that an upstairs bedroom was on fire. Officers used a fire extinguisher to knock down the flames from two mattresses and box springs all piled together, said Detective Sgt. John Rusnak.
Campbell firefighters arrived a short time later to finish fighting the blaze.
Police believe the suspect started the fire in his bedroom, then shot the four victims — two on the second floor, two on the first — then turned the gun on himself.
Rusnak said a letter found in the suspect’s bedroom suggests that the gunman may have acted in response to a family dispute.
Neighbors said the house primarily is occupied by an older woman, but others stay there. The house was occupied by several people Saturday who had just come to visit a few days ago.
Several young children were in the home but were not injured, one neighbor said. Police did not say how many other people were in the home and not injured.
Officers investigated a blood stain found on the back door of the house next door, but neighbors said they didn’t know who had caused the stain because residents of that house did not answer the door when the person knocked.
Police were called to 47 Seventh at 1:04 p.m. for a report of gunfire. Officer Mitch Zupko went inside and learned from victims that the shooter had just left.
Officer Ryan Bloomer learned from Zupko that the shooter was a young black male in a yellow shirt, then got help from a neighbor to locate him. Bloomer “took off running” and took the man into custody a short distance from the house, he said.
“Our main concern was getting him off the street so he couldn’t shoot anyone else,” said Bloomer, who rode in the ambulance to St. Elizabeth Health Center, where the suspect was taken for treatment.
Sgt. Drew Rauzan, interim police chief, said the performance of officers Zupko and Bloomer was exemplary.
“For a major crime scene with multiple victims, Officers Zupko and Bloomer couldn’t have done a better job, attending to the victims, preserving the crime scene and apprehending a possibly armed suspect that had just shot four people,” Rauzan said.
The suspect was not armed when apprehended, but Bloomer didn’t know that at the time.
“It appears there was some type of family dispute,” Rusnak said about why the shootings may have occurred. “We don’t know what that is. [The suspect] began by setting fire to the mattresses in his bedroom ... either to conceal evidence or burn down the house or both.”
Police found five shell casings in the house and recovered a weapon they believe the suspect used in the shootings, Rusnak said.