The military veteran who police say killed six family members and critically injured another in a shooting spree near Philadelphia Monday was believed to have been chased off by an armed civilian after attempting to steal the man's car keys in Doylestown on Monday night.
For hours on Monday police assumed Bradley William Stone, 35, was in his Pennsburg, Pa., house at Main and W. 4th Streets, according to police sources at the scene.
SWAT teams surrounded the home, demolished the garage behind the house, extinguished lights on the street and evacuated neighbors from nearby homes as they fired gas canisters and stun grenades into the small frame home decorated with an American flag.
Around 7:30 p.m. police abandoned the home and fanned out into Philadelphia’s suburbs.
Just half an hour later, reports emerged of the Doylestown attack by a man in fatigues trying to rob a civilian walking their dog of their car keys. The civilian had a gun and shot at the man, who then ran into the woods, and who reportedly matched Stone's description.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said the victims were all members of Stone’s wife's family. Multiple media reports said the shootings may have been tied to a custody battle.
Press reports say Stone is a Marine Corps veteran of Iraq, where he served as a weatherman with an artillery unit.
Stone is believed to have killed the six people at three different locations on Monday.
Police followed a “hangup” 911 call to the Lansdale home of Stone’s former grandmother-in-law and mother-in-law around 4:30 a.m. Monday. Police found both women shot to death, Ferman said.
At 4:55 a.m., more than 7 miles from the Lansdale home, a neighbor alerted police to a disturbance at the apartment of Nicole Hill on the 150 block of Main Street in the Harleysville section of Lower Salford Township. Hill, Stone’s 33-year-old ex-wife and the mother of his children, was found shot to death, according to Ferman.
Ferman said that at 5 a.m. Stone took the couple’s two daughters, ages 8 and 5, to his hometown of Pennsburg, dropping them off at a neighbor’s house.
In Souderton around noon, police found Nicole Stone’s sister, Patricia Flick, her husband and their 14-year-old daughter dead in their home. Their 17-year-old son was found with a bullet to his head and a gunshot to the hand. He was airlifted in critical condition to a Philadelphia hospital just after 12 p.m. Monday.
Neighbors in Souderton wept hysterically as they arrived at the scene and heard that residents of the Flick's Penn Avenue home were victims of the crime.
"It's a relatively quiet block. To wake up and see SWAT teams outside, the whole streets just loaded with SWAT, it's like, wow," said Pat Godshall, a Washington Avenue resident who lived around the corner.
The Souderton murders actually occurred first, at 3:30 a.m., reports say.
That morning, police surrounded Stone’s Pennsburg home. Using loudspeakers they called for him to surrender, and officers at the scene told Metro they believed Stone was in the home.
"This morning I heard there were murders. I thought Lansdale, Souderton, that's pretty far away --and then all of a sudden it's in my backyard. I look up and there's snipers," said Terry Place, a Pennsburg resident who lived a few houses away from Stone's home.
Place saw SWAT officers demolish a garage behind Stone's home where they believed he might be hiding.
"All the SWAT team came down the street. I'm like having a panic attack. [They came] all down the woods, the streets, the fields, with dogs and guns," said Catherine Staump, 47, a Pennsburg resident, who witnessed SWAT coming in to the area. "They don't know where this guy is. They're searching everywhere."
With nothing but silence by nightfall, officers circled the house, walked up to the front door, and pointed flashlights in the windows, while dozens of locals watched for hours from across the street.
Authorities locked down schools in the Upper Perkiomen Valley and Souderton school districts as the manhunt wore on. The children were let go by 3:45 p.m.
While police recovered Stone’s vehicle and personal cell phone, he is still on the loose.
Around 8 p.m. reports emerged of the incident in Doylestown. As of press-time police were reportedly searching the woods near Doylestown.
Pennsburg’s last brush with infamy came in 2010 when resident Colleen LaRose, known as Jihad Jane was arrested on federal charges of aiding terrorism.
Bradley William Stone, the 35-year old veteran who police say killed six relatives in a child custody dispute today of Pennsburg, is a former military weatherman and Iraq veteran, who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to reports.
ABC News said Stone was a Marine reservist from 2002 to 2011, leaving the military with the rank of sergeant. NBC10 in Philadelphia reported his military specialty was monitoring the weather to ensure the accuracy of artillery fire.
Stone lived on the same street where Colleen LaRose, also known as Jihad Jane lived with her mother.
Stone was described by the Montgomery County DA’s as 5-foot, 10-inches tall, weighing 195 pounds, and having a red and auburn beard and mustache with closely cropped hair.
Stone, according to the DA, is known to use a cane or walker. Authorities believe he was wearing military fatigues, either green or sand-colored.
Additional reporting by Danny McDonald