A family of four was found dead of gunshot wounds on New Year's Day, while an unidentified fifth woman, 19, was found with shotgun injuries, in another house on the same street.
The family - a man in his forties and three women (the youngest believed to be still in her teens) was found dead in different rooms of a house on Greenside Avenue, Peterlee, in County Durham. Paramedics confirmed the deaths upon their arrival at the scene and a shotgun was reportedly found next to the man's body. The lone survivor was hospitalized and later discharged. She is presently helping the police with their investigations.
A spokesperson for the Durham police, Martin Wallwork, asserted the survivor was believed to be connected to the four victims, two of whom have been identified - the man is believed to Michael Atherton, Sr., a taxi driver and one of the women is believed to a Susan McGoldrick.
The police have ruled out, for now, the chance of outsiders being involved in these deaths.
According to police reports, the authorities received a call, at approximately 11.45 p.m. on Saturday night, from neighbours who complained of gunfire.
"The indications are this happened very very quickly. We had a call... saying a number of people ahd been shot," Wallwork continued, adding that officers with firearms reached the scene as quickly as possible.
"We thought we heard fireworks last night, but when we woke up this morning we heard it was a shooting. It's horrific," said an unidentified neighbour quoted in the Daily Mail.
Councillor Paul Stradling, from the Labour Party Ward, said it was the most shocking incident he had come across in his 30 years as a politician.
"I have had a few phone calls this morning asking if I was aware of it - it's terrible news. Greenside Avenue is normally a very quiet area of the village so it has shocked everybody," said Stradling, in a report by The Telegraph.
The police have cordoned out the crime scenes and are carrying out extensive forensic investigations.