CRANDON, Wis. — An off-duty sheriff's deputy who killed six young people fired 30 rounds of ammunition after he burst into a home where friends had gathered, investigators said Monday.
Tyler Peterson, 20, who later died after exchanging gunfire with law enforcement officers, had been in a relationship with one of the victims, authorities said at a news conference.
"They were in a relationship for a few years," said Police Chief John Dennee. "They had broken up and gone back and forth."
The rampage raised questions in the remote northern Wisconsin community about how Peterson could have met requirements to become a law enforcement officer. No psychological testing was performed, but he had undergone other background checks and completed all required training by the state, authorities said.
"We had no idea, obviously, that anything like this would ever occur," said Dennee. "Once we realized that he was our suspect, he was no longer a cop."
The rifle used in the shootings is the type used by the sheriff's department, but investigators had not confirmed that the rifle he used came from law enforcement.
Peterson fled the home and was later found at a residence in nearby Argonne, authorities said. In phone conversations after he fled, he identified himself as the shooter.
Killed in the rampage were six young people who were either students or graduates of Crandon High School. They were at the house to share pizza and watch movies during the school's homecoming weekend. Classes were canceled Monday, and many teens went to a local church to meet with counselors.
The victims were identified as Jordanne Murray, Katrina McCorkle, Leanna Thomas, Aaron Smith, Lindsey Stahl and Bradley Schultz. Autopsies were scheduled to be completed Monday.
Pastor Bill Farr read a statement from the deputy's family in which relatives expressed their shock and sorrow.
"Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and their friends. We are grieving for your losses. We feel a tremendous amount of guilt and shame for the acts Tyler committed," it said.
It continued: "We may never receive the answers we all seek. Like those close to Tyler we are in shock and disbelief that he would do such terrible things. This was not the Tyler we knew and loved."