EAST LANSDOWNE, Pennsylvania — Six people from the same family are presumed dead after a shooting and fire at a home in East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, a surviving family member said.
That number includes the apparent gunman.
A fire that erupted in the home shortly after the gunfire, which also left two police officers injured, left the building in ruins.
Three bodies, including that of a child, and a gun, had been recovered from the charred rubble by Thursday afternoon.
“We’re still at the stage of trying to get into the house bit by bit and recover bodies and evidence,” said Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer.
It all began with a 911 call for a report of a shooting at 58 Lewis Ave. The alleged shooter was identified by his mother as 43-year-old Canh Le.
Le’s mother, Chin Le, told sister station
PICTURED: Britni McLaughlin-Le, 37, Xuoug Le, 40, and their three children, Natalya, 17, Nakayla, 13, and Xavier, 10.
McLaughlin Family via ABC News
Exactly how many victims were shot is unclear and cause of death will be determined by an autopsy. Crews spent the day trying to recover the bodies.
Chin Le said the family did not have a history of arguments. Chin Le she and her family came to the United States in 1981 and lived in this area for 40 years.
It’s believed the children went to schools in the William Penn School District. District officials released a statement on Thursday saying it is still gathering information and providing counseling.
Responding officers immediately met with gunfire
Police were immediately met by gunfire when they arrived at the scene Wednesday afternoon.
Sources told Action News on Thursday that the shooter was believed to be firing from the third floor of the house. Two officers were hit and the suspect retreated back into the home.
Officer David Schiazza, 54, who is with the Lansdowne Police Department, was shot once in the leg. The 22-year veteran of the department was released from Penn Presbyterian Hospital at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Police officer released from hospital after being shot in East Lansdowne
Officer John Meehan, 44, who is with the East Lansdowne Police Department, was shot once in the left arm and his injury required surgery. Meehan is still being treated at Penn Presbyterian Hospital.
CHOPPER VIDEO: Officers shot while responding to shooting involving child
Upper Darby police quickly grabbed ballistic shields and dragged the injured officers to safety.
“I heard a lot of gunshots as I just came from the store and then I smelled the smoke about 10 minutes later. And I just seen cops come everywhere, running in their vests and everything,” said one resident. “I heard [them] yelling ‘active shooter, get in the house, barricade, don’t come out,'” a neighbor said.
Neighbor Derrick Richardson recorded cell phone video of the chaotic scene as officers helped an injured officer and called for a medic while they were under fire.
“It was very scary, it was very scary. My whole house was surrounded by police officers. Everybody had their guns drawn. Long rifles and the gunshots,” he said.
Chopper video also showed one officer being carried away from the scene and being put in an ambulance.
Upper Darby Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt described a volatile and dangerous scene when officers from his department responded to the home and were able to rescue the two wounded officers.
“All officers that were on scene initially were taking on fire, and then when they removed themselves from it, there was no more gunfire at that point,” Bernhardt said.
DA Jack Stollsteimer provides update on shooting the injured 2 officers in East Lansdowne
DA Jack Stollsteimer, law enforcement officials provide update on 2 officers shot in East Lansdowne
“It was because of the Upper Darby Police Department, who also responded to that call, that these officers are alive today. They were dragged out of danger by Upper Darby police officers,” said Stollsteimer. “Everybody in law enforcement and Delaware County works together.”
“I just can’t thank these officers and this team enough for the heroism displayed every single day by our police officers throughout the county, or particularly today. I can’t thank Upper Darby police officers enough for what they did to drag these two gentlemen away from the gunfire – or we might be having a whole different conversation tonight about what happened,” Stollsteimer added.
Home goes up in flames
Stollsteimer said a person inside the home started a fire about 15 minutes after officers arrived.
Intense flames were initially seen rising from the roof and top floor of the three-story home before spreading to the lower levels, largely gutting the structure.
The blaze raged on for hours as crews worked to get it under control. Fire crews were initially kept away from the scene due to the gunfire.
The massive plume of smoke could be seen across the community. It was so intense it was picked up on StormTracker 6 radar.
Firefighters remained on the scene Thursday as wisps of smoke were visible from the charred remains of the house. Heavy machinery moved into the neighborhood as investigators were examining the home.
An excavator was being used to tear down the walls left standing after the fire gutted the building, scooping debris to be sifted by investigators. A medical examiner’s office vehicle was also there.
Neighbors recall chaos
The incident unfolded as school was letting out and families were walking back home.
The entire block was evacuated, according to the district attorney. A man who lives nearby described the frightening scene.
“There was rapid gunfire. I was just sitting on the couch, then I heard, ‘Pop! Pop! Pop!’ (I) peeked out to see, then literally 10 seconds later cops were coming out from everywhere in every direction yelling, ‘Active shooter! Close your door,'” he said.
‘Get in the house’: Resident recalls emergency response after officers shot
‘Get in the house’: Resident recalls emergency response after officers shot
Other residents described the chaos as they ran into their homes.
“All the cops was coming with guns, rifles out and I said, ‘Close the door, leave the groceries’. My hood was up and my car was open,” recalled Veronica Carrington.
“My kids were scared and then I said, ‘Get away from the windows, get down, until we know it’s all safe and everything.’ And my little 4-year-old goes, ‘Mommy I’m so scared.’ And I’m like, ‘It’s OK babe,'” added Stevie Ann of East Lansdowne.
A SWAT vehicle was also seen breaking down a wall of the home.
SWAT vehicle rams burning Delaware County home after officers shot
“I saw the SWAT team, they were parked up on my lawn, they packed into the back of the SWAT vehicle. I think they were attempting to use the SWAT vehicle as shield, but the fire just got to be out of control,” Richardson said.
“Everybody in Delaware County should be praying for these two officers who ran towards fire when everybody else can run away from it,” Stollsteimer said.
“I feel sorry for the people involved [and] the officers that got shot. I feel like if it is true with this 11-year-old — I hope it’s not true because I couldn’t imagine losing one of mine — It’s just a sad situation,” said Stevieann, who is also a neighbor.
“Seeing an incident like this happen is like, nobody would’ve ever seen this type of thing coming. It’s shocking, it’s still shocking. Loss for words, so prayers and condolences,” added fellow nieghbor Tayvon.
District Attorney, law enforcement officials provide update on house fire, officer-involved shooting in East Lansdowne, Pa.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.
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