Last Updated Dec 16, 2014 5:37 AM EST
PENNSBURG, Pennsylvania -- A woman who told neighbors she feared her ex-husband would kill her was among six people found fatally shot in three suburban Philadelphia homes, and her Marine veteran former husband was on the run.
Suspect Bradley William Stone, 35, remained at large early Tuesday, causing one local school district to close schools as a precaution. Residents of nearby communities were asked to shelter in place temporarily late Monday as an intense manhunt spread to their areas.
SWAT teams were involved, reports CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan.
Authorities said Stone should be considered armed and dangerous, reports CBS Philadelphia station KYW-TV.
His former wife, 33-year-old Nicole Stone, was found dead after a neighbor saw Stone fleeing just before 5 a.m. Monday with their two young daughters.
Police then made the grim discovery of five people killed in two other houses: Nicole Stone's sister, brother-in-law and 14-year-old niece were dead. A 17-year-old nephew was left clinging to life. And her mother and grandmother had been fatally shot.
Brad Stone and his ex-wife had been locked in a court fight over their children's custody since she filed for divorce in 2009. He filed an emergency motion early this month, although the resulting Dec. 9 ruling remains sealed in court files.
"She would tell anybody who would listen that he was going to kill her and that she was really afraid for her life," said Evan Weron, a neighbor at the Pheasant Run Apartments in Harleysville.
He said Stone would talk frequently about the custody dispute.
"(Nicole) came into the house a few times, a few separate occasions, crying about how it was very upsetting to her," Weron said.
The homicide was the first in Harleysville in 20 years, CBS News' Duncan says.
Neighbors woke to the sounds of breaking glass and gunshots coming from Nicole Stone's apartment early Monday. They alerted authorities after seeing her ex-husband racing away with the children. The girls later were found safe with his neighbors, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said.
She declined to discuss the weapon or weapons involved in the slayings, and said authorities did not know if Stone was traveling on foot.
Stone likely was wearing military fatigues, said Ferman. She added that he sometimes used a cane or walker.
"As I stand here right now, we do not know where he is," Ferman said at an evening news briefing.
"We actually recovered his vehicle and his personal cell phone, so we do not have information about how he might be traveling," KYW quotes Ferman as saying.
The rampage started in Souderton, at the home of Brad Stone's former sister-in-law, and ended about 90 minutes later at Nicole Stone's apartment in nearby Harleysville, Ferman said.
Nicole Stone's sister, Patricia Flick, her sister's husband, Aaron Flick, and the couple's 14-year-old daughter, Nina Flick, were killed in the first wave of violence, which was not discovered until nearly 8 a.m. Their 17-year-old son, Anthony Flick, was pulled from the house with a head wound and was taken in an armored vehicle and then by helicopter to a Philadelphia hospital for treatment.
Nicole Stone's mother, Joanne Hill, and grandmother, Patricia Hill, were killed next at their home in nearby Lansdale. Investigators were alerted by a hang-up call to emergency dispatchers, Ferman said.
Then they got the call from Nicole Stone's neighbors.
Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton are within a few miles of each other.
One woman who witnessed parts of the incident told KYW what she saw.
"I heard four gunshots, and I heard the kids screaming, 'Mommy, no! We want Mom!' the woman recalled. "And I ran into my son's room and looked out the window, and he was actually taking the kids in the car and leaving."
The woman says at that point, she opened her window and asked the suspect if everything was OK.
"He looked at me and just said, 'She's hurt, she's hurt pretty bad. We gotta go, we gotta go.' And he just left."
Longtime friend Matthew Schafte said, "I'm (angry) because he could have come to my door and I could have taken him to a treatment center, and we could have worked this out."
He described Stone as a Marine veteran who served in Iraq, but said he was not aware of any resulting injuries.
KYW reports the search for Stone continued late Monday night in Doylestown, Bucks County after, police say, they took a report of an attempted carjacking involving someone who's description is similar to that of Stone.
According to police, the alleged victim was walking his dog around 7 p.m. when he was confronted by a suspect carrying a knife and demanded his car keys.
Police say the alleged victim had a gun and shot several times as the man ran into the woods.
Brad and Nicole Stone married in 2004 and filed for divorce in 2009, court records show. Nicole Stone became engaged over the summer, neighbors said.
He had faced several driving-under-the-influence charges, one of which was handled in veterans' court and led to a three- to 23-month sentence.
Stone remarried last year, according to his Facebook page, and has an infant son. Neither his wife nor the son were injured. His wife's Facebook page shows their son and Stone's daughters having their picture taken with Santa on Saturday.