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Five people murdered in Illinois town, suspect dead -police

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Five people, including two small boys, were shot to death in their home early on Wednesday in Manchester, Illinois, before the suspect was killed in a shootout with police, state police said.

Illinois State Police also said that a 6-year-old girl was critically injured in the shooting and taken to a hospital. State officials identified the suspect as Rick Smith, 43, who had a criminal history including for reckless homicide.

State police did not discuss any motive but told a news conference that the victims were related and included an infant boy, another male child, two women and a man. Officials did not expect to release names until Thursday.

State Police Lieutenant Colonel Todd Kilby told a news conference broadcast on CLTV that Smith forced his way into the home through a back door, and used a shotgun "fired at close range" to commit the killings. He took the 6-year-old injured victim out of the home and handed her to a neighbor before fleeing by car, police said.

Two bodies were found in one bedroom, two in a second bedroom, and the man in the hallway, police said.

At about 7:13 a.m., the car was spotted and chased by state and local police who exchanged gunfire with Smith, state police said. He was arrested and later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Kilby said Smith was acquainted with the victims, and the exact relationship was being investigated. Police said there was no reason to believe that the 300 or so residents of Manchester were in danger.

"It's been a very tragic scene," said Larry Balthis, pastor of the Manchester Baptist Church. Balthis said he had recently seen the injured girl and the older boy at an Easter Egg hunt at his church, where they won prizes. A neighbor of the family had brought them to the church.

"They're cute little kids," said Balthis. "It's really sad."

Scott County State's Attorney Michael Hill said Smith had been convicted of reckless homicide, believed to be related to driving under the influence. He also had "sundry criminal arrests for drugs, bad checks, things of that nature," Hill said.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Greg McCune, Lisa Von Ahn and Bernard Orr)

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