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After opening gifts, seven killed in Texas gunfire

| Monday, Dec. 26, 2011

GRAPEVINE, Texas — Seven people believed to be related had opened their Christmas gifts and started cleaning up the wrapping paper when they were shot to death in a suburban Fort Worth apartment, police said Sunday.

Authorities said they believe the shooter is among the dead.

Four women and three men, 18 to 60, were found in an adjoining kitchen and living room area when police entered the apartment around midday, said Grapevine Police Sgt. Robert Eberling. Two handguns were found near the bodies in the apartment that was decorated for the holiday with a tree, he added.

"It appears they had just celebrated Christmas. They had opened their gifts," Eberling said.

The victims have not yet been identified, but Eberling said it appears they all died of gunshot wounds. He said authorities don't know the reasons behind the tragedy.

Police and firefighters rushed to the Lincoln Vineyards complex after receiving a 911 call at about 11:30 a.m., Eberling said.

"There was an open line. No one was saying anything," he explained.

So police went into the apartment, located in a middle-class, suburban neighborhood of Grapevine, not far from the upscale Fort Worth neighborhood of Colleyville. The apartment is at the back of the complex, overlooking the athletic fields of Colleyville Heritage High School.

But many of the nearby apartments are vacant, and police said no neighbors reported hearing anything on a quiet Christmas morning.

Jose Fernandez, a 35-year-old heavy equipment mechanic who moved to the complex with his family about six months ago, said he always felt safe in the area, but is now afraid to let his 10-year-old son play freely outside.

"This is really outrageous, especially on Christmas," said Fernandez, who was visiting family members when the shooting happened and returned to find several police cars parked outside his home.

"This has shocked everybody. It has scared everybody. I guess something like this can happen anywhere, but seven people dead. It's just very scary," he added.

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