Based on information from the grandparents of the Le family, investigators believe the suspect shot at least one of his nieces, “which is unbelievable to be able to say,” Stollsteimer said.
The grandparents “were going through an incredible trauma I still can’t imagine,” he said.
“They have literally lost everything they have,” he said. “They’ve lost everybody they’ve loved, and they’ve lost their home.”
Officers were called to the home in East Lansdowne, a borough of around 2,700 west of Philadelphia, around 3:47 p.m. Wednesday on a report that an 11-year-old girl had been shot, officials have said.
When the two officers — one from East Lansdowne police and the other from Lansdowne police — arrived at the house, they were both shot once by someone inside and immediately returned fire, police said.
The two officers who were wounded have been released from the hospital. One was shot in the leg, and the other was shot in the forearm, Stollsteimer said.
Images from the scene show the almost total destruction of the house, with just its external walls remaining. Officials said that firefighters were unable to stop the blaze because of the active shooter situation.
The house will need to be destroyed to make the area safe, Stollsteimer said.
A torso was found along with the firearm, and tests will be done to determine if it is that of the suspect, who was the uncle of at least one of the victims. The gun is a rifle that was “melted at some level,” he said.
If the suspect is confirmed to be among the dead, the criminal investigation will be closed, “because we will have found the person we believe at least killed one person in this home, and probably killed all the others,” Stollsteimer said.
Tests will also determine if the victims were alive or dead when the fire was set.
During the initial 911 call, gunfire could be heard, Stollsteimer said.
A family member on Thursday identified the parents of the three children as Britni McLaughlin-Le, 37, and Xuong Le, 40.
They were “loving and devoted parents to their three children, their extended family, and their beloved friends,” the family said in a statement. “Their three children all excelled in academics, the arts, and sports.”
The investigation is ongoing, and includes interviews with every police officer who fired their weapon during the incident, Stollsteimer said. He said every officer who fired their weapon “was completely justified in doing so.”
A motive is not known, Stollsteimer said.
“This is just a horrendous, horrendous thing,” he said.
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