Two found shot dead at Pr. William daycare; children unhurt
Prince William police are investigating what appears to be a murder-suicide Monday morning at a Dale City house that served as a day care center.
Police said the incident took place about 7 a.m. on the main floor of the house. Seven children were downstairs in the basement at the time of the shootings. They were not injured and did not see the shootings. The kids were taken to a police station and their parents were notified, police said.
Police received a report of a shooting at 5612 Roundtree Drive in Dale City at about 7 a.m., said Prince William Police Officer Erika Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the department.
They arrived to find a man and woman with fatal gunshot wounds, Hernandez said. The woman lived at the home and knew the man, she said. Police have now identified the two as Tonitha Marie White, 39 and Richard Anthony Nichols, 49.
Hernandez said White's daughter, who is 12, answered the door for Nichols, who was once a neighbor, and returned to the basement to help care for the children. The children are elementary-school aged and their parents used the day care at the home to have their children watched before and after school.
The daughter either sensed something was wrong or heard the shots and hustled the children to a basement bathroom and called 911, Hernandez said.
Hernandez declined to speculate on a motive, but said the shooting was "domestic."
Residents of Rockcliff Lane in Woodbridge said White used to live on their street next door to Nichols. White, however moved away about a year ago when she separated from her husband, George. Neighbors said they didn't know Nichols at all and never heard of a dispute between him and the Whites. Neighbors said the Whites have two kids -- the daughter who answered the door for Nichols and a son who is about 9.
"I'm shocked," said Tom Hargest who lives across the street from White's old house on Rockcliff Lane. "They were a great couple and Tonitha was a great gal."
Johnny Acre, 62, who lives almost directly across the street from the daycare center, a grey two-story house with a fenced-in backyard and a basketball hoop out front, said nothing like this has ever happened in the 25 years he's lived in the neighborhood.
"I'm shocked," said Acre, who was home but didn’t hear gunshots on Monday morning. "This is a safe place."
Other neighbors also described a quiet neighborhood where many keep to themselves, and Acre said he didn't know the people who lived in the house.
This post has been updated since it was first published.
-- Jennifer Buske
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