At least eight people were killed in “execution-style” shootings in southern Ohio on Friday, authorities said. As many as four young children were found alive at multiple scenes of the shooting, officials added.
Authorities said the early on Friday the situation did not involve an active shooter. But Friday afternoon, Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a radio interview that none of the eight deaths appear to have been suicide, and that their killer may still be on the loose.
The dead include five adults and two juveniles, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for Ohio’s state attorney general’s office. Those seven dead appear to be members of the same family and were found in three different homes on Union Hill Road in Pike County.
An eighth body was found later Friday afternoon at a fourth location, Tierney said, but he declined to specify the location and whether the eighth fatality was an adult or child.
Of the children found alive at the main site, DeWine said: “Some of them were very, very young. You had at least one or two babies.”Attorney General Mike DeWine told local radio station WLW in a broadcasted phone call about 2 p.m.: “We just within the last few minutes discovered another body in another house, so that takes us up to four houses with now a total of eight bodies so far.”
Authorities have not identified those killed, but in the radio interview DeWine said the family’s last name was Rhoden. Neighbors and relatives also said the Rhoden family lived in the large area closed off by investigators and its various members of the family lived scattered among three different trailers, including the mother Dana Rhoden, her ex-husband, several children and grandchildren.
“It was a mother, her former husband, their grown children and some grandchildren, too. They all used to attend our church,” said Phil Fulton, pastor of the nearby Union Hill Community Church. Dana Rhoden worked at a nursing home for the elderly, he said. She had just bought a new mobile home near the two existing trailers occupied by her ex-husband and her son, Fulton said. All three trailers are less than a mile apart.
Neighbors and relatives said the ex-husband was one of those killed. When asked whether the ex-husband may have killed the family and then killed himself, Attorney General DeWine said to WLW, “It is possible that the person who did this is among the deceased, but it’s looking like that’s probably not true. So we have the assailant who we believe is loose somewhere.”
“We don’t know if perpetrator has left the area, he’s had ample opportunity to do this,” DeWine said. “I would be careful. It looks like this involves the victims, a family by the name of Rhoden. I think that any remaining family members, I would be cautious if I were them.”
“They were very good people,” said a relative of Dana Rhoden, who did not want to be identified.”She was so good with her kids and her grandbaby. We’re just brokenhearted.”
Many among the Rhoden’s relatives were still awaiting word for exactly which members of the large were killed, the relative said.
Video from local TV news
outlets showed law enforcement vehicles clustered around the trailers on a stretch of Union Hill Road, where authorities say the incident occurred. Neighbors there describe it as a rural area of mostly mobile homes.
Authorities have not identified the victims. Authorities said there have been no arrests and there was no threat of an active shooter.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was in Pennsylvania for his presidential campaign, said his office was monitoring the situation. “Reports we are receiving from Peebles are tragic beyond comprehension,” wrote Kasich on Twitter, referring to the town bordering Piketon.
Tierney said the Pike County sheriff’s office called state authorities at 8:21 a.m. requesting help. The attorney general sent agents from four of its units: crime
scene, special investigations, criminal intelligence and cybercrimes.
Officials at Peebles High School said they placed the school on lockdown Friday morning as a precaution but lifted that lockdown by about 10:30 a.m.