A Virginia law enforcement worker has been killed in a shootout with deputies in California after he allegedly murdered the mother and grandparents of a teenage girl he catfished online, before trying to escape with the teen, police said on Sunday.
Officers were initially called to the La Sierra South neighborhood in Riverside, California, on Friday just after 11 a.m. to check on the welfare of a girl who appeared distressed while getting into a Red Kia Soul with a man, the Riverside Police Department said in a news release.
While officers were responding, police began to receive calls about a structural fire just a few houses away from where the welfare call was reported, they said.
The Riverside Fire Department arrived at the residence to find a fire on the first floor. When they made entry they discovered three adult victims lying on the ground, police said.
“Their bodies were pulled outside where it was determined they were victims of an apparent homicide,” the Riverside Police Department said, adding that firefighters were able to put the fire out.
During a preliminary investigation, detectives found out that the girl described in the initial welfare call had lived at the house where the three people were found dead, police said.
Authorities were also able to identify the man she was seen with as 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards of North Chesterfield, Virginia, who detectives learned had worked for the Virginia State Police until being recently employed at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in the state of Virginia.
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