CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — Six members of a Virginia family that friends and neighbors called religious and hard-working were killed in an apparent murder-suicide after a failed negotiation, police said Thursday.
Chesapeake police said they believe Cameron Dooley, 26, killed his parents, brother, sister and another relative before killing himself after an hours-long negotiation with officers.
The other dead were identified as Steven Todd Dooley, 50; Lori Dooley, 54; Landon Dooley, 22; and Brooke Dooley, 17. The name of the sixth family member, a woman, was not immediately released. Their deaths were ruled homicides.
The Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Thursday all five homicide victims died of gunshot wounds. Cameron Dooley was shot in the chest and his death was ruled a suicide, while the other Dooleys were shot in the head, spokesman Arkuie Williams said.
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Police said all were shot with a handgun.
Steven Todd Dooley, who went by his middle name, retired Nov. 1 after 25 years as a Chesapeake Police Department officer, police spokeswoman Kelly O’Sullivan said. Several neighbors said Todd Dooley’s father, the Rev. Allen Dooley, led the nearby Temple Baptist Church before dying in 2010 and leaving behind a large family that was widely viewed as the cornerstone of the neighborhood.
“They were just really good Christian people,” neighbor Desiree Darst said in a telephone interview. “I knew them my whole life. We’re all in shock.”
Police said in a news release that officers responded to a call to check on a person and found Landon Dooley dead inside a house Wednesday afternoon. Their investigation led them to another home a couple of blocks away, where they found an armed man barricaded inside. After negotiating for several hours, police said officers entered the home and found the other five people dead, including the man they had been negotiating with.
O’Sullivan said Todd Dooley was “very well respected” in the police department. “He was just very easygoing — a nice guy,” she said.
He was active with the police department’s dive team and marine patrol, which led him to an after-retirement job as a service technician at Lynnhaven Dive Center in Virginia Beach.
“Todd was a good man and a hard worker — a family man and a very religious man,” said Blake Hughes, the dive shop’s service manager. “It’s sort of hard to wrap our brains around what happened.”
Hughes said his wife is a nurse, so Dooley talked to him about daughter Brooke’s participation in the nursing education program at Deep Creek High School. Dooley never mentioned any problems with any of his children, Hughes said.
Neighbors also said they never had any hint of trouble in the Dooley family.
“The family had a wonderful reputation,” said Judith Styron, who has lived in the neighborhood for 21 years.
Timothy Casteen, a retired teacher who lives two doors down from Todd and Lori Dooley’s home, said the late Rev. Allen Dooley established a strong family presence in the neighborhood that was carried on by his surviving family members.
“They were people we all looked up to,” he said.
Darst said she had many conversations with Cameron Dooley, who helped take care of his grandmother after his grandfather died.
“He was a very nice boy,” she said. “I don’t understand.”