SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Four people were found dead in and around a southwest San Antonio home Monday afternoon from what police are calling a triple murder-suicide.
San Antonio fire chief Charles Hood said the initial call came in just before 6:10 p.m. in the 7500 block of Dream Valley off of Old Pearsall Road.
“The initial call came in as a disturbance,” San Antonio police chief William McManus explained to reporters. “A second call came in letting us know the complainant’s brother was in the house turning tables over and breaking lamps.”
Fire units were the first to get to the scene and found two bodies out front with the house on fire.
Police say those two were people in their 60s and shot as they were leaving the house.
“This fire appeared just to be a room and contents fire — just a simple fire,” Hood explained. “But understanding that there was probably somebody inside, we were not able to put that fire out.”
Instead, they let it burn until it was determined to be safe to go in.
“If it had been a standard fire, we would have been able to knock it out quick,” the fire chief quipped.
As firefighters moved into a defensive mode with the blaze, SWAT officers were equipped to go into the house to make sure it was safe for fire crews.
“We were able to outfit SWAT officers with SCBAs and hose lines and we took a couple of our folks in and did a secondary search and that’s when the two other bodies were found,” said Hood after the fact. “You don’t often see SWAT officers wearing self-containing breathing apparatus. You don’t normally see assault weapons around a fire truck, but that’s what you saw today.”
The officers were able to clear the house and found two more bodies.
“The grandmother of the complainant and the suspect,” McManus detailed, saying the grandmother was in her 80s. “We weren’t sure if the suspect had gotten away or if he was still in the house, but he was still in the house.”
Up until that point, the police had the neighborhood blocked off, keeping people from entering the area while the neighborhood streets were packed with black and white squad cars and big red fire trucks.
It was a scene for Jonathan Gonzalez, who was at the nearby CVS just minding his own business.
“I was just coming to the CVS pharmacist and they told us to evacuate the place and they were going to shut it down because they said the killer was still at large,” Gonzalez recounted.
He ended up watching what was going on with nearly a dozen other people at a nearby bus stop and anti-abortion protesters down at the corner of Old Pearsall Road and Five Palms Drive paying no attention to the fact four people just died a block or two away from them.
In light of the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Ohio, the fire chief said firefighters and police can never be too careful and always need to be making sure they able to coordinate in situations where both services are heavily needed.
“That is a good lesson for us, because we have to be concerned with vertical terrorism where someone institutes fire in a situation like we have seen the shootings in the last couple of days,” Hood told reporters. “At some point in time, someone is going to introduce fire in a situation like that and our departments are going to have to deal with a situation like that.”
Police did not identify any of the victims nor the suspect as they continue to investigate what happened. Police are also working to determine how the grandmother and the suspect died in the house.