Independent:– A three-year-old girl was found hiding under a bed after her father killed her mother, two sisters and a family friend in a shooting spree, US police have said.
Austin Smith allegedly shot dead his wife Dasia Patterson, 29, and murdered two of their daughters at their home in Phoenix, Arizona, after accusing her of cheating on him.
Police said the 30-year-old bludgeoned to death eldest daughter Mayan Smith, seven, with a baseball bat. Her younger sibling Nasha Smith, five, died of gunshot wounds.
Officers found the girls’ three-year-old sister cowering under a bed unhurt.
“It is my understanding that for whatever reason he elected not to shoot her,” said Sgt Tommy Thompson, of Phoenix Police Department.
Mr Smith was arrested on Thursday evening as he drove away from an apartment complex where officers had responded to reports of a shooting. At the building they discovered the body of family friend Ron Freeman, 46.
Police initially said Mr Smith thought Mr Freeman was romantically involved with his wife, but a statement later filed in court said the suspect believed it was his brother, who was staying at the complex, who was having an affair with her.
Mr Smith shot Mr Freeman after he told him “he was crazy” to think his wife was cheating on him, according to the court filing. He allegedly fired at him repeatedly even as his body laid on the floor and also shot and injured two of Freeman’s friends, a man and a woman, as they tried to help him.
Sgt Thompson described the scene at the apartment complex as chaotic, with medics treating victims before authorities knew of the shooter’s whereabouts.
Police who searched Mr Smith’s car found a 9mm handgun, a .45 calibre handgun and a .223 calibre rifle believed to have been used in the rampage.
Officers discovered the other victims when they went to Mr Smith’s family home later on Thursday.
He told detectives during an interview he believed “in God’s eyes it was all right for him to deal with someone in this manner who had been involved in adultery or an extramarital affair”.
The court document described Mr Smith punching his eldest daughter, and throwing her to the ceiling and the floor, before striking the child’s head several times with a baseball bat.
He told police he did not kill his youngest daughter because she “reminded him of himself”, whereas his other daughters reminded him of his wife, reported local television station KNXV-TV.
“They were the most beautiful, sweetest children in the world,” said Cynthia Patterson, Ms Patterson’s mother.
In a further statement, the family said: “We are in anguish over the senseless loss of our beloved Dasia and her young children.
“As we try to process our profound grief, our focus is on the welfare of her sole surviving three-year-old daughter. She just lost her mother and sisters, and we want nothing more than for her to be with her family right now.”