Man charged with killing six members of same Texas family

SPRING Texas Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:48pm EDT

1 of 4. A Harris County Precinct 4 Constable has to turn residents away from the crime scene after several people were shot to death in the Houston suburb of Spring Texas July 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Daniel Kramer

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SPRING Texas (Reuters) - A man accused of fatally shooting four children ages 4 to 14 and their parents after entering their suburban Houston home disguised as a FedEx delivery man while looking for his former wife was charged with capital murder on Thursday.

Ronald Lee Haskell, 33, went to the home searching for his former wife, who is related to the victims, and held the children at gunpoint until their parents returned, authorities said. He then brought all seven family members into a room and shot them, killing all except a teenage girl, authorities said.

"I've not personally in 40 years seen a tragedy in one family this horrific," Harris County Constable Ron Hickman told reporters.

Haskell, who formerly worked for a contractor used by FedEx, is being held without bail. In Texas, the charge of capital murder carries the possibility of the death penalty.

Police in Logan, Utah, said in a statement that Haskell and his then-wife lived in the city from 2006 to 2013. They said they had once arrested him for domestic assault and violence but the charges were dropped after he accepted a plea deal. Police in Texas said Haskell carried a California driver's license.

Haskell is alleged to have killed two boys ages 4 and 14, two girls ages 7 and 9, and their parents Stephen Stay, 39, and Katie, 33. Five of them were found dead and one of the children died after being flown to a hospital for treatment. A 15-year-old daughter survived the attack, the sheriff's office said.

Local media reported that the family was bound and each member shot execution style, but police would not confirm the reports.

"Stephen and Katie Stay and their beautiful children were an amazing and resilient family. They lived to help others, both at church and in their neighborhood. We love them beyond words," Katie Stay's father, Roger Lyon, said in a statement issued by the family.

"We are shocked and devastated by this tragedy that has taken these precious souls away from us," Lyon said, adding the teenage daughter who survived the shooting, Cassidy Stay, was expected to make a full recovery.

The suspect's former wife did not live at the house and was not harmed in the incident.

'IN AWE OF HER BRAVERY'

Another shooting spree may have been thwarted by Cassidy, who suffered a bullet wound to the head and called police to alert them about the gunmen, police said. Cassidy, left for dead, managed to call the 911 emergency number and informed authorities the gunman was headed to the home of relatives nearby, police said.

"We are in awe of her bravery and courage in calling 911, an act that is likely to have saved all of our lives. She is our hero," the family statement said.

Police intercepted Haskell, sparking a slow-speed car chase through tree-lined roads and past houses with wide yards that came to a halt when he was trapped on a dead-end street.

Haskell was taken into custody after a four-hour standoff on Wednesday night.

Neighbors described the Stay family as kind and cheerful, and expressed shock at what had unfolded in their normally quiet suburb.

"We don't know why this happened," said neighbor Paul Anthony Slawinski. "This man, his wife and children were the definition of compassion and charity."

A February 2013 post on Stephen Stay's Facebook page said he was able to open his own real estate company with the help of his wife. Katie Stay's page has a picture of the smiling family dressed in light blue shirts sitting together on a swing.

FedEx said in a statement that Haskell was once employed by a contractor used by the shipping company but had not worked for that company since January. "Our heartfelt thoughts and condolences go out to all those involved in this tragic incident," FedEx said.

Haskell's arraignment was scheduled for Friday.

(Reporting and writing by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Jim Forsyth in San Antonio and Curtis Skinner in New York; Editing by Will Dunham and Peter Cooney)

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Comments (45)
LogicalOne wrote:
Of course. I’m getting really tired of coward men and their coward guns.

Jul 09, 2014 10:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
faithnoman wrote:
Me as well, LogicalOne.

Jul 09, 2014 10:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
carnivalchaos wrote:
Let’s see, when shootings take place in Chicago conservatives are quick to point out that Chicago has strict gun laws. Texas has very liberal gun laws. In fact, more gun violence occurs in states with lax gun laws than in states with strict gun laws: http://www.salon.com/2014/07/04/10_states_where_guns_are_most_and_least_likely_to_kill_people_partner/

The gun obsessed like to point out that guns don’t kill, people do. They also think we can solve gun violence by doing something about mental health (they rarely say what.) However, the problem is the proliferation of guns. If there are guns everywhere, then it’s never a problem for someone with mental problems, criminals, or just people who really don’t need to be owning a gun, to get their hands on a gun and start killing. Yes, guns by themselves don’t kill, but guns in the hands of people do.

We need to catch up with the rest of the world on this issue and become a more responsible society when it comes to gun ownership. We should have mandatory universal background checks, ban all assault weapons, limit magazine capacity, and start holding gun owners responsible when their guns are used to commit crimes. People need to do a better job of keeping their guns under lock and key, and maybe if they bore some of the responsibility when their guns are used in a crime, they’d think twice before choosing to own an arsenal of guns.

Jul 09, 2014 11:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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