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Man charged in Kansas City triple slaying

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY Mo. (Reuters) - A Kansas man was charged on Wednesday with fatally shooting three people and critically injuring two others in a Kansas City neighborhood, prosecutors said.

Brandon Howell, 34, who faces three counts of first-degree murder, is accused of firing on the people on Tuesday and committing several other crimes, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker told a news conference.

The prosecutor said theft was a motive in the crimes, which she said were apparently random.

"It scares all of us because that is a beautiful, peaceful neighborhood and it got hit tragically with senseless acts of violence," she said.

On Tuesday afternoon, police responding to a 911 call about a shooting found a woman dead in a driveway from a shotgun wound, two people injured in the basement and two dead in a neighboring front yard, according to documents released by prosecutors.

The dead were identified as Alice Hurst, 88; her son, Darrell Hurst, 63; and Susan Choucroun, 69; who lived on the same street in the city's Woodbridge neighborhood, near an upscale country club. The two injured people remained in critical condition on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

Police took Howell into custody late on Tuesday after he was suspected of assaulting three guests at a motel about 20 miles from the neighborhood where the people were killed.

Howell had a shotgun in his right pant leg and the keys to a vehicle he is accused of stealing from one of the murder victims when he was found walking along a highway, police said. The vehicle, an SUV, was found in a parking lot near the motel.

Howell was also charged with armed criminal action, assault, burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to prosecutors, who said charges in the motel assaults were pending in a different county.

The suspect, who is from Hutchinson, Kansas, had been convicted of other felonies and was acquitted by a jury in 2009 of murder charges in the deaths of a young couple in Jackson County, prosecutors said.

Howell was convicted in 2006 in Kansas of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault and attempted aggravated robbery, according to charging documents released by prosecutors.

He is being held without bond.

(Additional reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Peter Cooney)

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