The Illinois State Police says the murder of five people in Manchester last week was a planned attack surrounding a child custody dispute.
Police say the suspect, Rick Smith, 43, of rural Morgan County, was involved in a dispute over his 3-year-old daughter with Rita Luark. Luark was the daughter of JoAnn Sinclair, mother of Brittney Luark and grandmother of Nolan and Brantley Ralston, all victims in the shooting. James Ralston was also killed. None of the victims were related to Smith.
The Morgan County Sheriff's Office says that on March 27, the office facilitated an exchange of custody between Smith and Luark, which occurred without incident. Police say Smith believed that Rita Luark's relatives in Manchester were interfering with their custody dispute.
Smith reportedly broke into the victims' home on 19 East Street on April 24 and fatally shot five people. A six-year-old girl, Kassidy Ralston, survived the attack.
Smith was killed a few hours later in a shootout with police.
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