MUSKOGEE, Okla. – A gunman killed five children, ages 1 to 9, and his 24-year-old brother in a mass shooting early Tuesday at a home in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where they all lived together, along with the mother of the children.
Police captured the gunman, identified as Jarron Deajon Pridgeon, 25, as he fled the scene on foot around 1:30 a.m. when officers arrived at the home in response to a 911 call about gunshots in the neighborhood.
Pridgeon was jailed without bond on multiple complaints of first-degree murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Police said he refused to cooperate with investigators who sought a motive for the slayings.
Brittany Anderson, 27, the mother of the children, was seriously wounded but survived the massacre, along with three other uninjured children. She was reported conscious and stable at a hospital in nearby Tulsa.
Police discovered the gunman's brother -- identified as Javarion Lee -- and four of the children dead at the scene. A wounded fifth child found at the scene was pronounced dead at a Tulsa hospital.
Lynn Hamlin, Muskogee Police Department spokeswoman, said the suspect and victims lived together in the home, but the exact nature of their relationships had not been determined.
“It was not random obviously because they all did live in this home together, but as far as what all those relationships look like, we just don't know that yet," Hamlin said.
The child victims were identified as Jalaiya Pridgeon, 1; Jaidus Pridgeon, 3; Harmony Anderson, 5: Nevaeh Pridgeon, 6; Que'dynce Anderson, 9.
An officer fired a shot that missed the suspected shooter at the scene as he fled but police quickly ran him down and arrested him. Police said he was wielding a gun.
Muskogee Mayor Marlon Coleman said the mass shooting left "our community paralyzed with grief." He said even though the suspected gunman was in custody "no court of law or sentencing phase can restore this loss of life."
The mayor's statement said the tragedy "struck our community the likes of which we have not seen in decades. Many of us went to bed resting in anticipation of tomorrow's hopes, only to have awakened to know that five babies with unlimited potential are no longer with us."
Neighbors said the victims had only moved to the home in Muskogee three or four weeks ago. They said they didn’t know their names or anything about them.
Muskogee public school officials confirmed some of the children were students in the district.
School administrators said they would provide grief counseling through the remainder of the week, and urged children affected by the tragedy to seek assistance.
Neaoma Nitter, who lives across the street from the murder scene, said she heard shots around 1:30 a.m. Nitter said she never saw anything unusual, or noticed any traffic moving in or out of the house.
Damon Smith, who lives a few houses down, said he regularly walked his dog, Katy Bell, past the residence.
“The kids, they were always waving at me,” Smith said, adding there were usually about three of them. “It's a big shock."
Smith and another neighbor, Pamela Roughface, brought flowers to the property after they learned of the shooting deaths.
Online court records show that the suspected gunman was arrested in 2017 for larceny of an automobile. In February 2019, he was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, threatening to perform acts of violence, and misdemeanor malicious injury to private property. In June 2019, he was charged with obstruction, resisting an officer, and possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
Hamlin, the police spokeswoman, said Muskogee officers are experiencing "shock, disbelief, sadness" over the shooting deaths.
"We're concerned about our officers," she said. "But this also affects our whole community."
Kim Poindexter and Keri Thornton of the Tahlequah Daily Press, Derrick James of the McAlester News-Capital and Cathy Spaulding of the Muskogee Phoenix contributed to this story.