4 dead, 3 children hurt in Asheville shooting

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Police chief says a man shot his girlfriend and her five children before shooting himself. (WLOS)

A man shot his girlfriend and her five children in their North Carolina home -- killing the woman and two teens -- before shooting himself, police said Thursday.

Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper said the shooting happened Wednesday night after Maurice Laron Garner, 35, got into an argument with his girlfriend at the Asheville hospital where she worked.

Officers found 32-year-old Erica Nichelle Smith slain and her 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter fatally wounded.

A 10-year-old boy who was grazed by a bullet called 911 around 10:30 p.m. to say that Garner had killed his mother. A 12-year-old child was in stable condition with a leg wound, while an 8-year-old was treated for a graze wound. Their genders weren't immediately released.

The chief said Garner's body was found in a car nearby with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He does not appear to have been the father to any of the children.

The surviving siblings are being cared for by local advocacy agencies, she said.

"Any death in our community, especially one involving violence on this scale, has far-reaching traumatic impacts, particularly when they involve children," the chief said.

Asheville police hadn't received any prior domestic violence calls to the house, Hooper said, but Smith did approach police about Garner this month. On April 5, Smith reported that Garner had taken a car, but police determined there was no crime because the vehicle was registered to him.
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