LAWRENCEVILLE - Police found the bodies of two young girls and their mother - a Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department deputy - Thursday night in a triple homicide that rocked a sleepy Lawrenceville neighborhood.
The two girls, ages 4 and 12, were found shot to death not far from their mother's body in a two-story home on Madison Chase Drive. Police did not immediately release the victims' names.
Neighbors said the family had moved into Madison Chase subdivision about six months ago.
Gwinnett police spokesman Officer David Schiralli said the slain woman's third child, a teenage boy, was not home at the time of the shootings. The boy is not suspected of wrongdoing but remained in police custody late Thursday, Schiralli said.
Schiralli said police were actively searching for suspects about two hours after the reported triple murder. He couldn't confirm that the killings were sparked by a domestic situation, nor could he comment on the nature of the victims' wounds.
Schiralli wasn't aware of any recent emergency calls to the home, he said.
"Investigators have several leads that they're going on," Schiralli said. "They're going in all directions."
Police responded to a report of shots fired about 8 p.m. at a home next door to the deputy's. Inside that home, police found a single bullet hole in a wall, which they traced to the deputy's home next door, Schiralli said.
Police then found the 12-year-old girl's body near the front door. The mother was elsewhere on the first floor. The youngest child's body lay upstairs, Schiralli said.
Investigators don't believe any other victims were in the home at the time of the shootings.
Police continued to interview neighbors late Thursday as crime scene investigators combed the premises.
Residents slowly gathered at a nearby street corner on Madison Chase Way, consoling each other.
Michelle Wilkerson lives on a street adjacent to the crime scene. Her son often plays basketball with the slain deputy's teenage son, she said.
"He's a good kid," Wilkerson said. "It's just devastating to hear that his whole family has passed away."