By Daniel Kelley
TABERNACLE N.J. (Reuters) - A shooting at a home near Philadelphia killed two members of a New Jersey family and critically wounded two others, according to state police, who said other relatives were in the house at the time but did not report hearing gunfire.
A boy and a girl were killed, while a woman and an adolescent boy were critically wounded, State Police Captain Stephen Jones said on Thursday outside a house in Tabernacle, New Jersey, where the gunfire took place.
The victims, whose names and ages were not released, were likely a mother and her children, police said, but they were unable to confirm that immediately.
Jones declined to name a suspect but said police were not widely searching for an assailant.
The wounded were taken by helicopter to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, where spokeswoman Lori Shaffer said they were in critical condition.
The case is being investigated as a homicide, but the possibility of a murder-suicide attempt has not been ruled out, state police investigator Jeff Noble said.
All four victims were found in the same room of the home, where nine people lived, Noble said.
Other relatives were in the house at the time of the shooting, Jones said, and police were dispatched to the house at about 9 a.m. after one of them made an emergency call.
The gunfire occurred sometime between Wednesday night and the time of the call, but none of the uninjured relatives reported hearing it, Jones said. He said police were questioning the relatives to determine why no one reported hearing shots.
Police said officers encountered a chaotic scene when they entered the residence.
“Our troopers are trained to expect the unexpected, but nothing can prepare you for this,” State Police Lieutenant Gregory Giannone said, adding that officers at the home were being offered counseling.
The house where the shooting took place is a large single-family home in a wooded area. Residents say the neighborhood, nestled in the rural New Jersey Pine Barrens about 25 miles east of Philadelphia, is a quiet one.
"There are days you have to wait for the deer to get out of the way to pull out of your driveway," said Joe Barry, 58, who lives several blocks away.
Tabernacle, with a population of about 7,000 people, was ranked in 2010 by New Jersey Monthly Magazine as the sixth best place to live in the state, according to the town's website.
(Additional reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Frank McGurty, Bill Trott and Mohammad Zargham)