OAKLAND, Maine (AP) — A 3-year-old girl was the only survivor of a shooting rampage in which a gunman killed the youngster’s parents and his girlfriend in an apartment before taking his own life in this central Maine community, police said Thursday.
The girl was in the custody of her grandmother Thursday as state police detectives sought to determine what caused the deadly outburst.
“The task that investigators have is to try to find out what sparked this violence, what set this man off. At this point we don’t have answers but we’re going to work very hard to get them,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Law enforcement officials received a number of 911 calls Wednesday evening including one from one of the women who’d been shot and later died.
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Police identified the victims as the child’s parents — Amanda Bragg, 30, and Michael Muzerolle, 29 — and Bragg’s sister, Amy Derosby, 28.
Derosby’s boyfriend, Herman Derico, 42, shot them in an apartment before killing himself in the driveway, police said. A 9mm handgun was found next his body. McCausland said the gunman has no arrest record in Maine.
Jason Thomas, a next-door neighbor, said Thursday that he heard two gunshots and called 911. He then heard a man yell, “I told you this was going to happen!” He said he heard a woman pleading, “Please don’t, please don’t.”
Then he heard two more shots before police arrived. After hanging up with the 911 operator, Thomas said he called Michael Muzerolle’s phone and Amanda answered.
“I said, ‘Are you OK?’ She said: ‘No, I can’t move. Can you please help me?'” Thomas said.
The phone went dead and no one answered when he redialed.
A 911 call from Derosby gave first responders “valuable information,” McCausland said. The state police tactical team entered the home and discovered the child and two bodies on the first floor; they re-entered later and found a third body, also on the first floor, he said.
They all shared the brown clapboard home, which was divided into two apartments. Bragg and Muzerolle lived downstairs with their daughter, and Derico and Derosby lived upstairs.
The landlord lived in the back of the home in a third unit. He declined to comment.
Chris Perry, another neighbor, said he heard two shots as he was arriving home and saw a man he believed to be the gunman in the driveway.
He said Muzerolle was a good neighbor who’d recently helped him put up a weather vane on a cupola on his house. “I just feel bad about them,” he said. “I feel bad for the little girl. She’s a cute little girl.”
Neighbors identified the child as Arrianna. On Thursday, a Go Fund Me page entitled “Help raise Arrianna” sought donations for her relatives, saying the family is preparing to bury two sisters and a man who was treated by the family as a son-in-law.
A woman who answered the phone at the home of Arianna’s grandmother hung up. Another sister, Samantha Bragg, said she wasn’t ready to talk about what happened.
This story has been corrected to show that the girl is 3, not 4, as police previously said.