2 killed, 1 hospitalized in apparent murder-suicide in Gaston County, police say

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Two people are dead and one is recovering in the hospital following a suspected murder-suicide in Gaston County early on Saturday morning.

Gaston County Police went to Brentwood Lane near Stanley just after 2 a.m. Saturday to assist the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office with a shooting and fire.

Investigators believe the house was intentionally set on fire by the suspect.

Later in the day, police released the identity of the suspect in the incident as 48-year-old Russell William Blakney of Stanley. His body was found at the crime scene.

According to officials, Blakney and his twin children were home when the incident happened. His 11-year-old daughter was rescued from the fire and is currently recovering in the hospital.

Blakney’s son, also 11, died at the scene from injuries inflicted by his father.

Channel 9 veteran crime reporter Glenn Counts went to the scene where the pile of ash replaced a family home. Phillip Shaw, a relative of the family, shared his shock with Counts; to him, Blakney was just another dad.

“It’s the kind of shock that you can’t overcome; you never would expect it to strike your family,” Shaw said. “The kids played, the dad was pretty cool, and he worked out all the time.”

A neighbor of the family, Robert Haney, said the sound of fire trucks woke him up around 4 a.m. on Saturday morning. Like other residents, Haney still has unanswered questions about what happened and, most importantly, why.

“Prior to that incident, I left yesterday evening right before dark, and it was three sheriff’s deputies parked right down the road from that house,” Haney said. “I went and did my shopping, and they were still there when I came back; I don’t know what they were looking for.”

Counts was able to speak with the grandfather of the twins, who did not want to go on camera, but says his surviving granddaughter is doing well at the burn center at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital.

Gaston County Police say this is an ongoing investigation; anyone with information is asked to call the department.

This is a developing story; check back at wsoctv.com for updates.

(WATCH: 8-year-old helps grandfather shot at Gaston County home; 2 arrested, police say)