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Thursday
Apr252013

Illinois Man Allegedly Killed Five People, Carried One Child to Safety

Hemera/Thinkstock(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) -- A 6-year-old girl is fighting for her life after being shot multiple times and then taken to a neighbor by the man who shot her and killed five other people.

Among the shooter's victims were two children and a pregnant woman.

Police were called to an apartment complex in Manchester, Ill., at 4:48 a.m. on Wednesday. They found five victims dead -- one male adult, two female adults and two boys.

A third child, a 6-year-old girl, suffered gunshot wounds but was spared by alleged killer Rick Odell Smith, 43, who took her outside of the house and put her in the care of a neighbor before taking off, police said. The gunman was killed a few hours later in a shootout with police.

The little girl is in serious condition at a hospital in Springfield. She was not biologically related to the five killed who were all part of the same family, but it is unclear why she was there. Police said she was also not related to the suspect.

The five that were killed were identified Thursday. Brittney Luark, 23, and James Ralson, 29, were the parents of Nolan Ralston, 5, and Brantley Ralston, 1. Luark's grandmother Jo Ann Sinclair, 67, was also killed.

Luark was pregnant, according to the coroner's office.

"It appears that the offender forced entry from the backdoor," the Illinois State Police said in a news release. "Based on the shell casings located at the crime scene, it also appears that the weapon used was a shotgun fired at close range."

About two hours later, Smith was involved in a car chase with police in nearby Winchester, Ill. At one point, Smith got out of his car and exchanged gunfire with police, authorities say.

"Shots were exchanged, police took the suspect in custody while he was in possession of multiple weapons," Illinois State Police Lt. Col. Todd Kilby said at a news conference. "The offender was then taken into custody and transported to an area hospital in critical condition where he was pronounced at approximately 10:10 [a.m. on Wednesday]."

"We don't have any comment on the motive at this time," Illinois State Police Sgt. Matt Boerwinkle told ABC News on Thursday.

Smith's brother Ryan Smith told ABC News' Chicago station WLS-TV that his brother was involved in a child custody battle with the daughter of one of the victims. Police would not confirm or comment on the brother's comments.

"I believe he was trying to protect his daughter and he had been upset for a while," Ryan Smith said. "And that's all I really have to say on that matter."

Rick Smith had previous convictions for drugs, reckless homicide and bad checks, WLS-TV reported.

Smith was the nephew of Manchester Mayor Ronald Drake who said he had not seen Smith in two years.

"It's a close-knit community. Everybody talks to everybody...This is just a tragedy for the whole town," Drake told WLS-TV. "People are just going to have to press on and ask the Lord the help us go on. It's all I can say."

Illinois State Police and Scott County law enforcement are investigating the case.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio