GLENSHAW - A suburban Pittsburgh electrician fatally shot his daughter and wounded his wife and son before killing himself early Thursday, but police were at a loss to explain why.
Homicide detectives found no sign of a struggle and said they have found no letters or other items explaining why James Edwards, 52, shot his family, their dog and then himself shortly after 3 a.m. inside their Shaler Township home.
Edwards' daughter, Laurin, 19, attended school at St. Francis University in Loretto.
"It looks like the children were in their respective rooms. He went from room to room, for lack of a better term, and shot all the people," Allegheny County police Lt. Andrew Schurman said. "We might never know exactly why."
The gunman's wife, Charlene Edwards, was conscious when police arrived and did not mention any marital problems, police said.
The county medical examiner planned autopsies Thursday on Edwards and his slain daughter. Charlene Edwards, 51, and the couple's 21-year-old son, also named James, were taken to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. They were listed in critical condition but were expected to survive.
St. Francis statement
We are deeply saddened to have been informed this morning that one of our students, Laurin Edwards, was involved in a fatal tragedy at her home in Pittsburgh.
Laurin was entering her sophomore year as a promising physician assistant sciences student here at Saint Francis University and was a member of Phi Lambda Psi sorority.
"We extend our deepest sympathies to Laurin's mother and brother, James, who were critically injured in this tragic event. We also join our prayers with those of Duquesne University where James is enrolled in the pharmacy program," said University President Father Gabriel Zeis, T.O.R.
Immediate emotional and spiritual support is being provided by the Residence Life Department, the Counseling Service and Campus Ministry.
"Over the weekend any student in need of counseling services may call 814-472-3211 to schedule assistance. Beginning on Monday students may also visit the Counseling Center in 120 Francis Hall between the hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m. or call the center to schedule an evening appointment.
"A special candle was lit this morning near the pulpit of the Immaculate Conception Chapel on campus. It will be lit all weekend for Laurin and her family. Noon mass [Thursday] was said for Laurin.
"At 8 p.m. on Sunday another Mass will be said for Laurin. And the Mass' intentions will be offered for her."
Authorities discovered two revolvers they believe Edwards used. The Associated Press found no criminal or civil court records indicating any family or legal trouble involving any of the family members.
The shootings dumbfounded neighbors on a quiet street in this hilly, wooded suburb just northeast of the city.
The elder James Edwards worked at Pittsburgh International Airport, where a spokeswoman refused to release additional information citing "personnel matters." The Allegheny County Airport Authority, which runs the facility, issued a statement expressing sympathy for Edwards' family, and praying for his wife and son's recovery. Charlene wife works as a patient care technician at UPMC Passavant, a hospital in another nearby suburb, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Jeff Sanders, a next-door neighbor for more than 15 years, said he heard only a faint dog bark as he got up for work, only to see police and emergency vehicles arriving, and paramedics tending to the shooter's wife.
"It's like a bad dream," Sanders said.
Linda Behrhorst, who lives across the street, was among those who knew the family and described their children as polite and successful. Laurin Edwards was studying to be a physician's assistant at St. Francis University in Loretto while her brother was in the pharmacy program at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
"Those kids were the most wonderful kids you would ever want," Behrhorst said. "Why anyone would hurt them is unbelievable."
The family had celebrated Laurin Edwards' birthday on Wednesday and Sanders, who spoke with her father that night, said, "Everything seemed fine."