4 shot to death before Oak Lawn fire, police say; Boy, 5, among the dead

February 26, 2014 (OAK LAWN, Ill.)

PHOTOS: Oak Lawn fire

Around 5 a.m. Wednesday, emergency crews were called to a home in the 9800-block of 51st Avenue because of a fire. A firefighter on his way to work went straight to the address.

"He encountered a vehicle inside the garage and heard noises coming from the vehicle. At the time, he approached the vehicle and opened the door and observed an adult male in the driver's seat take his own life with the use of a shotgun," Oak Lawn Police Chief Mike Murray said.

The body of another man was found just inside the home. Hours later, after the fire was struck, officials found the body of a woman and of a 5-year-old boy in the ruble. They have not been identified, but are believed to be related.

The case appears to be a murder-suicide.

"We haven't confirmed that, but we certainly believe that since he took his life in front of the fireman. That's the angle we're looking at," Oak Lawn Police Department Chief Mike Kaufmann said.

A neighbor said a retired couple lives in the home along with their adult son.

"When his daughter bought a home in Oak Lawn, he called me about the insurance. Yesterday, he called me to make a payment on her homeowners insurance. We became friends of the years," John McNicholas said.

The South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force is investigating.

The fire chief said frozen hydrants and slippery conditions hampered firefighters, but the fire was struck around 9 a.m.

Officials have not said what sparked the fire, which led to a roof collapse. Firefighters had to bring in heavy equipment to help in the search.

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