Four people – a man and three females – have been found dead in a house following a suspected shooting, police have said.
A major investigation is under way after firearms officers discovered the bodies in different rooms in the downstairs of the property in Peterlee, County Durham.
Police were alerted shortly before 11.45pm on Sunday after a caller reported a number of people had been shot inside the semi-detached house.
A police spokesman said all four victims were related or known to each other and at this stage they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths in Greenside Avenue.
Paramedics confirmed all four were dead at the scene. A shotgun was found lying next to the man’s body.
He is believed to be in his early 40s and while the ages of the female victims have not yet been established, it is thought the youngest was in her teens.
The man has been named locally as Michael Atherton, a taxi driver, and one of the women who died has been named also locally as Susan McGoldrick.
Sky’s Gerard Tubb, reporting from the scene, said: “This is very much being treated at the moment as a man shooting his family and possibly extended family and turning the gun on himself.”
Police at the scene of the suspected shooting
A fifth person, a 19-year-old woman, apparently escaped from the house after being shot and was found by police at another property in the same street.
A householder in the second property then called police, it is believed.
Tubb said the teenage victim who survived had shotgun pellet wounds, adding: “The house she went to raised the alarm, and sources told me a blizzard of phone calls came into Durham Police.
“The scene when police got there was horrific, I am told, and there was blood everywhere.”
The teenager is thought to be related to one of the victims and was treated for shotgun injuries at North Tees Hospital in Stockton and later released.
The area in Peterlee has been cordoned off since shortly after midnight and police say a forensic examination will be carried out at the house.
Robert Bailey, 72, a resident of Greenside Avenue, spoke of his shock following the news.
He said he knew the people involved by sight only – and they had appeared “normal, ordinary people”.
The four bodies were discovered in a house in Peterlee, County Durham
“There is shock. There is never any trouble here and we have been here for nearly 50 years,” he said.
Another resident of Greenside Avenue, who did not want to be identified, said it was a quiet area.
“I am shocked and stunned by this. This is just awful. Nothing happens in our street,” she said.
There will be an increased police presence in the area, with extra patrols planned.
Police spokesman Martin Wallwork told Sky News: “We would like to reassure people in Peterlee that this is under control.
“There is no danger to the public and we are not looking for anybody else at the moment in connection with this incident.”
Officers from the Durham force’s major crime team are investigating the deaths, led by Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry.
Anyone with information is being asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 101 or to ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.