Police: Man fatally shot sisters, father before setting Lenoir home on fire and killing self

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 12:54 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2021 at 3:40 PM EDT
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LENOIR, N.C. (WBTV) - Police say a man fatally shot his sisters and his father before setting their Lenoir home on fire and turning the gun on himself Wednesday.

The Lenoir Police Department received 911 calls advising there were shots fired, a fire and a possible explosion at a home on Laurel Place NW between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Lenoir Police Department and the Lenoir Fire Department responded to the scene.

When first responders arrived, there was a large fire at the home. Officials say the explosion happened inside the home, possibly originating in the kitchen area on the main floor. Officials have not found any natural gas lines to the home.

Once the fire department was able to extinguish the flames, investigators went into the home and found four people dead inside. Police say all four appear to have died from gunshot wounds.

Investigators confirmed the four killed were a father and three children, one of whom recently graduated. They’ve been identified as Ronald Albert Ward, 58, Katlyn “Katie” Nichole Ward, 18, Emily Grace Ward, 15, and Ronald “Jimmy” James Ward, 29.

On Thursday, investigators said they determined Ronald James Ward shot and killed his sisters and his father before intentionally setting the home on fire and killing himself.

No possible motive for the crime has been released.

Out of the five people who lived at the home, one person is OK.

Neighbor Kim Lackey was stunned when she heard four people had died in the home. She heard what she thought was gunshots just before an explosion.

“It was pow pow pow, and then pow, pow pow again,” Lackey said.

It was a few moments later that she heard the explosion.

Fire Chief Ken Hair says the source of the explosion is under investigation. He says there were no gas or propane lines going into the home.

Investigators say the fire was found to be set intentionally by use of an accelerant.

Local Pastor Kenneth Poarch says he’s known the victims for decades.

“They are a good family,” Pastor Poarch said.

He is hoping investigators can provide some answers as to what happened and why.

This continues to be an ongoing investigation involving The Lenoir Police Department, the Lenoir Fire Department, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

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