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Police: Christmas slaying suspect shot at homes



(CNN) -- The man responsible for fatally shooting four people, including his mother, on Christmas before taking his own life also shot at two houses four days earlier, police said Thursday.

Nathan Cheatham, 27, reportedly killed himself at the scene of three of the slayings -- the Price family's spacious home in Great Falls, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

It was there, in Great Falls, that Cheatham and one of his Christmas victims, 19-year-old Adam Price, shot at two homes December 21, said Officer Rich Henry, a spokesman for the Fairfax County Police Department.

Investigators have determined that just before dawn, Price and Cheatham fired three shots at a home, sending one bullet through a window and into a bedroom wall while another pierced the gutter and lodged in the roof, police said.

Two hours later, the pair shot several more times at a home four blocks away, police said.

Though nobody was injured, "investigation has determined that Nathan Cheatham grew concerned about police discovering his involvement in these shootings," the police said in a written statement.

Henry said it's possible that Cheatham's concern over being linked to the shootings could have prompted his Christmas rampage. (Watch police swarm the neighborhood where most of the killings occurred -- 1:25)

Police released more details Thursday about the killings, which began in nearby McLean, Virginia, with the suspect's mother, Sheila Cheatham, 53. Police say Nathan Cheatham had moved into his mother's home a few days before the shootings.

A witness reported that Nathan and Sheila Cheatham were sitting in a car outside the home at about 9:30 a.m. on Christmas, police said. Moments later, gunshots were heard but not immediately reported, according to a police statement.

About an hour later, a 20-year-old member of the Price family called 911 and said that someone was shooting at his home. When police arrived, they found a Ford Ranger in the driveway.

Police didn't search the home because they thought the shooter might be inside, but they sent officers to the address of the truck's registered owner, Nathan Cheatham.

There, in the driveway behind the house, they found the body of Sheila Cheatham, who had been shot multiple times.

When police finally searched the Great Falls home, they found three men and a woman in the bedrooms. Adam Price, his 50-year-old mother, Janina Price, and Christopher Buro, 20, were all dead, as was Nathan Cheatham. (Full story)

Also, a black Labrador retriever, Max, was shot three times, but will survive, police said.

The 20-year-old who called 911 was found hiding in the basement.

Authorities estimate that Cheatham shot more than 50 rounds from a 9 mm handgun.

Though police have yet to determine a motive, they are investigating whether mental illness may have played a role in the shootings. Police also want to know if a telephone call placed earlier Christmas Day had anything to do with the incident.

During that call, Cheatham apparently asked if he could visit the Prices "and was asked not to," said Fairfax County Police Chief Dave Rohrer.

Cheatham's autopsy results will include toxicology tests and will be available next week.

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