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Police name 'gun rampage' victims

Police have named the victims of a New Year's Day gun rampage in which a man shot himself after killing three women.

Durham Police said Michael Atherton, 42, shot and killed his 47-year-old partner Susan McGoldrick, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44 and her niece Tanya Turnbull, 24, before turning the gun on himself.

The bodies were found in "close proximity" downstairs in the semi-detached house in Greenside Avenue, Horden, Peterlee, after police were alerted to shots being fired shortly before 11.45pm on Monday night.

Police believe family members had been out at a pub or for a meal before returning to the house where the incident took place.

As the shooting began, a teenage woman, understood to be Mrs McGoldrick's 19-year-old daughter Laura, fled through an upstairs window and raised the alarm. She ran into the street and pounded on a neighbour's front door asking for help.

Durham Police revealed that police had had "minor contact" with the family in the past. In 2008 police were contacted after claims Atherton was threatening to self-harm.

The matter has been voluntary referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) by Durham Police, as they had previous contact with the family.

A spokeswoman for Durham Police said tonight: "Police are continuing to try and establish the exact circumstances of what took place and are speaking to family, friends and associates of those who died.

"However, we can confirm that police currently believe Mr Atherton shot the three women before turning the weapon on himself.

"The exact weapon used has still not been established and will also form part of continuing inquiries. Post-mortem examinations are being carried out and we hope to release more details of them on Tuesday."

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