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Police hold Kentucky man in killing of couple, arson of home

August 4, 2021 GMT

RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man killed a married couple outside an apartment building they owned, then barricaded himself inside the residence for hours and set a fire before police arrested him, officials said.

Officers responded Tuesday afternoon when a witness reported a shooting, Richmond Police Chief Rodney Richardson told news outlets. The couple had been shot multiple times and were pronounced dead at the scene, he said.

The victims were identified as Christopher Hager, 54, and Gracie Hager, 52, Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison said.

The suspect, later identified as Thomas Birl, 51, of Cadiz barricaded himself in the residence and set a fire that caused “severe damage” before police shot “rounds of powdered gas” inside, prompting Birl to come out, Richardson said.

Birl was taken into custody and taken to a hospital as a precaution, police said. He remained hospitalized Tuesday and will be taken to the Madison County Detention Center as soon as he is released, police said in a statement.

He will be charged with two counts of murder, arson, tampering with physical evidence and criminal mischief, the statement said.

A motive for the shooting wasn’t clear. Police said they don’t know if the victims knew Birl.

Richardson said the community was “saddened” by the deaths.

“The Hagers were pillars of the community and a lot of people know them and have had contact with them,” he said.