A woman is dead. Her two children were wounded.
That's what police are saying about the triple shooting that took place early Tuesday on a quiet street in the Town of Tonawanda.
But in the early hours of the investigation, investigators are sharing few details about the incident – leaving more questions than answers about what happened inside the Ebling Avenue home where the victims were found.
Still, town police emphasize that even though they don't have anyone in custody, the public has no reason to worry about its safety.
"We do believe that this was not a random event that took place," Assistant Police Chief James Stauffiger said at an afternoon news conference at town Police Headquarters. He declined to specify why police hold that viewpoint.
Stauffiger, who is the acting police chief, said one of the children reported a shooting around 2 a.m. at the home in the 100 block of Ebling, off Colvin Boulevard between Puritan Road and Cornwall Avenue. Responding officers found a woman dead and her two children wounded.
The children, both younger than 16, were reported in stable condition Tuesday afternoon at an unnamed hospital.
The juvenile victims are the children of the woman who was killed, Stauffiger said.
Officials are not identifying the victims nor saying what their relationship is to the owner of the home. Police say the homeowner was living with the woman and her children in the house.
Stauffiger said the suspect or suspects involved in the shooting fled afterward and police conducted an extensive search of the neighborhood, with assistance from the Amherst police K-9 unit.
Stauffiger declined to identify the homeowner or discuss whether he is a suspect but he said investigators believe the shooting was targeted. He couldn't say whether officers had previously been called to the home.
The acting chief didn't say how many shots were fired or what type of weapon was used.
"We are working very hard at this, and when we have information we certainly will provide it," Stauffiger said.
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For much of the morning, town police had Ebling between Puritan and Cornwall blocked off to traffic as they interviewed neighbors and collected possible evidence. Police personnel, on the scene since the overnight hours, made repeated trips in and out of the house where the body was found.
Residents in interviews described the neighborhood, east of Kenney Field and just south of the I-290, as tranquil.
“It’s unbelievable,” neighbor Emma Tomaka said upon learning that someone had been shot to death a short distance from her Puritan Road home. “This is the last thing you would expect. It’s normally so calm and quiet.”
Tomaka, 18, said she has lived in the neighborhood all her life and has been in her current home for more than five years. She left for classes at Niagara County Community College this morning amid unusual police activity.
“It was just crazy seeing all of the commotion, it was really concerning," she said.
This comes four months after officials say a 49-year-old woman was fatally shot by her domestic partner at their Sheridan-Parkside apartment in the town.
Mario Turner Sr., 51, was charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of Renee Taschetta, 49. Prosecutors say an incident of some kind took place on the night of April 30 in the Dumas Place apartment. In the aftermath, Turner grabbed a shotgun and shot Taschetta in the base of her neck, officials said.
Stauffiger said the department is bringing in peer counselors to work with the first responders who worked the violent Ebling Avenue scene.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the department's confidential tip line at 879-6606.