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Virginia law enforcement worker killed in shootout with deputies after murdering family of teen he catfished, police say

A Virginia regulation enforcement employee has been killed in a shootout with deputies in California after he allegedly murdered the mom and grandparents of a teenage woman he catfished on-line, earlier than attempting to flee with the teenager, police mentioned on Sunday.

Officers have been initially referred to as to the La Sierra South neighborhood in Riverside, California, on Friday simply after 11 a.m. to examine on the welfare of a lady who appeared distressed whereas getting right into a Pink Kia Soul with a person, the Riverside Police Division mentioned in a information launch.

Whereas officers have been responding, police started to obtain calls a few structural fireplace only a few homes away from the place the welfare name was reported, they mentioned.

 The Riverside Hearth Division arrived on the residence to discover a fireplace on the primary flooring. After they made entry they found three grownup victims mendacity on the bottom, police mentioned.

“Their our bodies have been pulled outdoors the place it was decided they have been victims of an obvious murder,” the Riverside Police Division mentioned, including that firefighters have been capable of put the fireplace out.

Throughout a preliminary investigation, detectives discovered that the woman described within the preliminary welfare name had lived on the home the place the three individuals have been discovered useless, police mentioned.

Authorities have been additionally capable of establish the person she was seen with as 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards of North Chesterfield, Virginia, who detectives discovered had labored for the Virginia State Police till being not too long ago employed on the Washington County Sheriff’s Workplace within the state of Virginia.

A number of hours later, authorities have been capable of observe Edwards’ automobile down as he was driving with the teenager by San Bernardino County within the unincorporated space of Kelso.

When deputies with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Division caught up Edwards, the suspect fired gunshots at them, earlier than being fatally shot by no less than one deputy, police mentioned. Edwards was pronounced useless on the scene, they mentioned.

The teenager was unhurt and was positioned into protecting custody of the Riverside County Division of Public Social Providers, police mentioned.

“Detectives decided Edwards had met the feminine teenager by the frequent type of on-line deception often known as ‘catfishing,’ the place somebody pretends to be a unique individual than they really are,” the Riverside Police Division mentioned.

Police mentioned it was believed Edwards had developed an internet relationship with the teenager and was capable of receive her private info.

He travelled from Virginia to Riverside, the place he parked his automobile in a neighbor’s driveway and walked to the teenager’s residence, sooner or later murdering her mom, grandfather and grandmother earlier than strolling again to his automobile with the teenager and leaving, police mentioned.

The slain relations have been recognized as 69-year-old Mark Winek, his spouse 65-year-old Sharie Winek, and their daughter, 38-year-old Brooke Winek, police mentioned. The precise trigger and method of their deaths have been nonetheless pending, they mentioned. The reason for the fireplace on the residence was additionally nonetheless below investigation, however police mentioned it appeared to have been deliberately ignited.

It was not instantly clear what roles Edwards held with both the Virginia State Police or the Washington County Sheriff’s Workplace.

A information launch from the Virginia State Police dated to January 20 seems to checklist an “Austin Lee Edwards” as one in all 58 new troopers who have been set to graduate from coaching the next day.

NBC Information has contacted each regulation enforcement departments for remark.

“Our hearts exit to the Winek household and their family members throughout this time of great grief, as this can be a tragedy for all Riversiders,” said Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez. “That is yet one more horrific reminder of the predators current on-line who prey on our youngsters. For those who’ve already had a dialog together with your youngsters on tips on how to be protected on-line and on social media, have it once more. If not, begin it now to raised defend them.”

 Police mentioned the investigation into the incident was nonetheless ongoing. They requested anybody with info to contact them and mentioned these wishing to stay nameless can e-mail [email protected].

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