MANCHESTER, IL (WGEM) - The small community of Manchester is in shock, mourning the loss of their neighbors, young and old, in a multiple homicide that claimed five in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Manchester is a tight knit community of only about 350 people in the southeast corner of Scott County. Both neighbors and village leaders are still trying to piece together what is now the biggest tragedy this small town has ever seen as six people have lost their lives and a 6-year-old girl remains in critical condition.
Virtually everyone knows everyone in Manchester. Many are them are even related. It's none more emphasized than in the fact that the town's mayor, Ron Drake, is the uncle of the accused shooter, 43-year-old Rick O. Smith.
"Pure tragedy, and we'll just have to talk it out and press on from there," said Drake.
Related or not, every resident, including Peggy Renner, is shaken by Wednesday's tragedy.
"I saw flashing lights in my window and when I got up and came downstairs there were police everywhere," said Renner.
Renner serves as the Manchester Village Clerk and can't quite explain the feelings and emotions of what took place in her town.
"It's a sad day. Kids are involved," said Renner. "It just hits us all real hard."
Renner's story is one that seems to be repeated throughout the town as other residents come together to mourn in the tragedy, one of those being Barry Wright.
"That's a wake up call," said Wright. "It's scary and it can happen to either one of us."
Wright lives two doors from where the shooting took place and was woken up at about 4:30 a.m. by the loud sound of police sirens.
"I saw the sheriff line 'Do Not Cross' and I thought what in the world is going on here and that's when they told me a shooting took place two doors from me," said Wright.
Drake, while mourning a tragedy that took a family member, promises to move his town forward.
"This is just strictly a tragedy," said Drake.
An attorney from Scott County spoke at a news conference Wednesday afternoon saying this kind of thing doesn't usually happen in a place like Manchester, but this is proof that it can happen. The last recorded homicide in Scott County took place in 1993, and officials say this is the first recorded multiple homicide in the county's history.
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