ELK MILLS, Md. -- A somber Cecil County sheriff spoke about the tragic discovery his deputies made just after 9:30 Friday morning. They found five bodies in a home on a quiet cul de sac in Elk Mills, including a man, a woman and three children. Police did not give ages but said the children were in the 5th, 7th and 8th grades. All five had been shot.
Sheriff Scott Adams told WJZ he was limited in what he could say because the man's next of kin had yet to be notified.
"We are actively trying to find that motive but right now we don't have that," Sheriff Adams said.
Police said they have yet to uncover any red flags and noted there was no prior history of calls from the home on Hebron Court.
A man called 911 to report the deaths just after 9 a.m., leading police to the victims.
"It was very short. The subject hung up and we tried to make calls back to the residence that went unanswered," a deputy said at a news conference.
One body was found in the garage, another on the first floor and three bodies on the second floor. Schools in the area were briefly placed on a heightened state of alert.
Police said they recovered a semi-automatic handgun next to the man and continued to collect evidence through an active search and seizure warrant.
"We're not aware of any other weapons that have been located inside the residence," Lt. Michael Holmes said.
Counseling has been provided to first responders. The sheriff addressed the trauma to them and the entire community.
"My phone hasn't stopped ringing from people who are concerned about this and upset about this," Sheriff Adams said. "Any loss is terrible, but a loss at this level is not a common thing and certainly not a common thing here in Cecil County. It is tragic and terrible and takes a long time for people to process."
He asked for "prayers for anybody involved in this who responded or may have had some involvement with this."
Police said several neighboring schools were placed on a heightened state of alert after the 911 call but there is currently no threat to the community. They said it was "too early" to call the case a murder-suicide.
Maryland State Police are assisting in the investigation because of the "extensive crime scene," the sheriff said.
Animal Control removed several pets from the house-a dog and two cats.
A neighbor told WJZ a family lives in the house. They moved in about two years ago, he said.
"Family was a remarkable, beautiful family, they truly were," he said.
He recalled seeing the children go out for walks with the dogs and cats in tow.
"As you can tell from out back, they had lots of fun things to play with, so they enjoyed themselves here. It was a new start for them," he said.
Residents were in shock.
"I just heard that five people were shot and killed that's all I heard. It's terrible," one man told WJZ. He'd driven to the area after seeing news choppers.
People in the small Cecil County community, which is just miles from the Delaware state line, knew something was terribly wrong when their quiet street suddenly got busy.
"I was actually here around 9:30 this morning just seeing all the cops come. As soon as I saw the yellow tape, I knew that means someone's gone," one neighbor told WJZ.
The neighbor who lives on the back end of the home where all the victims were found told WJZ the children may have been homeschooled, and he often saw then outside together.
"They're my neighbors. They used to play around here all the time, they had a dog, too. But I don't know much more, all I know is just they're gone," he said.
Residents are now left shaken as they wait to find out why this happened.
"It's very shocking around here, you know, especially when you have five people," one resident said. "That's crazy."
Additional reporting by Annie Rose Ramos and Ava-joye Burnett.
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