Shooting deaths of man, daughter puzzle police

No weapon found

father called 911, saying each had been wounded

August 09, 2002|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,SUN STAFF

After a former deputy director of the Maryland Port Administration and his 9-year-old daughter were found fatally shot in the man's Silver Spring home Tuesday night, investigators found no gun in a search of the house yesterday and remain stumped as to what happened, a Montgomery County police spokesman said.

Police stopped short of calling the deaths of George Gregory Russell, 47, and his daughter Erika Smith homicides, leaving open the possibility that Russell killed the girl and himself.

"Investigators are still very open to both angles," said Derek Baliles, a police spokesman. "We're looking at it as a suspicious death."

A blood-splatter analyst helped police study blood samples yesterday. Officers then searched for evidence in the rest of the house. No signs of forced entry were found, police said, further complicating a case that began with a frantic 911 call late Tuesday.

Police said they received a call about 11:30 p.m. from Russell, who said he and his daughter had been shot. The call was disconnected.

When police arrived at the house five minutes later, they heard what sounded like gunshots from inside, Baliles said.

After kicking in a panel in the front door and reaching in to unlock it, officers found Smith and Russell on the second floor, both with multiple gunshot wounds. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene; Russell died at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

Smith lived with her mother in Washington and was visiting Russell's home in the 9300 block of Columbia Blvd., police said.

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