PENNSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A man went to three houses in the Philadelphia suburbs before dawn Monday and fatally shot six people, authorities said, including his recently engaged ex-wife, who had told neighbors she feared he would kill her.
Police swarmed from one community to another Monday as they searched for Bradley William Stone, 35. As darkness fell, police were surrounding his home in Pennsburg, where he was believed to be holed up. They used a bullhorn and loud explosions to try to compel his surrender.
“Bradley, this is the police department!” officers yelled. “Come to the front door with your hands up. You’re under arrest.”
The rampage started at ex-wife Nicole Stone’s Harleysville apartment, investigators said. Stone broke in through a glass door around 4 a.m., firing multiple rounds and fleeing with their two children, the woman’s neighbors said.
He then went to two nearby communities, where her relatives lived, killed five other people and severely wounded another person before apparently holing up in a Pennsburg home, authorities said.
“She would tell anybody who would listen that he was going to kill her, and that she was really afraid for her life,” said Evan Weron, a neighbor of Stone’s ex-wife, Nicole Stone.
Stone had a “familial relationship” to all the victims, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said. The two children Stone took from his ex-wife’s house were safe, Ferman said.
Stone, about 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, was likely wearing military fatigues and was known to use a cane or walker, Ferman said.
The shootings occurred at homes in Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton, which are within a few miles of each other. Police with armored vehicles and rifles moved to Pennsburg after spending several hours outside the home in Souderton where several victims were found.
Several school districts ordered students and teachers to shelter in place.
“Everything started being blocked off, the SWAT was then later called in, then we had the tanks pull up,” said Don Smith, describing the scene near his Souderton home.
Brad and Nicole Stone married in 2004 and filed for divorce in March 2009, according to court records.
Brad Stone remarried last year, according to records. She became engaged over the summer, neighbors said.
The former couple recently sparred over custody of their two children, with Brad Stone filing an emergency petition Dec. 5 and Nicole Stone responding with a counterclaim Dec. 9, according to court records. The outcome of their dispute was not clear.
Nicole Stone’s neighbors at the Pheasant Run Apartments in Harleysville said they were awoken Monday morning by the sounds of breaking glass and gunshots.
Weron described Brad Stone as a former member of the military. He said Nicole Stone would talk frequently about the custody dispute.
“(Nicole) came into the house a few times, a few separate occasions, crying about how it was very upsetting to her,” Weron said.
Dale and reported from Harleysville. Associated Press writer Kathy Matheson contributed from Souderton and Harleysville.