PENNSBURG, Pa. — A man suspected of going to three houses in the Philadelphia suburbs and fatally shooting six people, including his ex-wife and her teenage niece, was at large, and prosecutors said investigators didn't know where he was or how he was getting around.
Police recovered the cellphone and car of Bradley William Stone, who had recently been in court fighting with his ex-wife over custody of their two children. SWAT teams surrounded his Pennsburg home on Monday and pleaded through a bullhorn for him to surrender, but Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said it was unclear if he was there.
"As I stand here right now, we do not know where he is," Ferman said at an evening news briefing.
The shooting rampage started before dawn at the home of Stone's former sister-in-law in Souderton and ended about 90 minutes later at ex-wife 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, discovered just before 8 a.m., Ferman said. Their 17-year-old son, Anthony Flick, was pulled from the home 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.
Nicole Stone's neighbors at the Pheasant Run Apartments in Harleysville said they were awoken around 5 a.m. by the sounds of breaking glass and gunshots coming from her apartment. They said they saw Stone fleeing with their two children and alerted authorities.
"She would tell anybody who would listen that he was going to kill her and that she was really afraid for her life," neighbor Evan Weron said.
The two children Stone took from his ex-wife's house were safe, Ferman said. She did not say anything about what weapon or weapons were used.
Stone, who's white, about 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, was likely wearing military fatigues and was known to use a cane or walker, but it's possible he did not need them, Ferman said.
Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton are within a few miles of each other. Police with armored vehicles and rifles moved to Pennsburg after spending several hours outside the Souderton home where several victims were found. Several school districts ordered students and teachers to shelter in place.
Later Monday night, police in neighboring Bucks County swarmed an area outside Doylestown after an attempted carjacking by a man dressed in fatigues and similar in appearance to Stone.
Brad and Nicole Stone married in 2004 and filed for divorce in 2009, court records show. Brad Stone, 35, remarried last year. Nicole Stone, 33, became engaged over the summer, neighbors said.
The former couple sparred over custody of their two children, with Brad Stone filing an emergency petition Dec. 5 and Nicole Stone responding with a counterclaim Dec. 9. The outcome of their dispute was unclear.
Weron, the neighbor, said Bradley Stone is a military veteran. Stone bartended at the American Legion hall in Lansdale, and court records show he recently faced several driving-under-the-influence charges, one of which was handled in veterans' court.
Weron said Nicole 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.
Dale reported from Harleysville. Associated Press writer Kathy Matheson contributed from Souderton and Harleysville.