- Associated Press - Friday, July 8, 2011

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — An ex-convict who went on a deadly shooting spree targeted two ex-girlfriends, fatally shooting both of them and five members of their families, including his own 12-year-old daughter, police said Friday.

On his hours-long rampage, Rodrick Shonte Dantzler tracked down his daughter and her mother and killed them, along with the mother’s own parents. He then went to a different house and killed another former girlfriend, plus her sister and 10-year-old niece.

Dantzler “went out hunting” his victims, Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk said. He also said the gunman used cocaine and alcohol sometime on the day of the slayings.

The 34-year-old former prison inmate began the spree Thursday afternoon before leading police on a high-speed chase through downtown Grand Rapids. He crashed his car and took several hostages in a stranger’s home, then killed himself with a shot to the head late that night.

Investigators did not know what triggered the attack, but the police chief said Dantzler appeared to be “mentally unstable.”

“I don’t have a clinical diagnosis,” Belk said. “Clearly, he was a very troubled individual.”

Records show Dantzler was released from state prison in 2005, after serving time for assault less than murder. A spokesman for the prison system said Dantzler had not been under state supervision since then.

After getting a 911 call that a man had acknowledged killing several people, police went to Dantzler’s home, but he wasn’t there.

Authorities soon got a call from a woman who said her relatives had been shot. Next came a call about someone finding four gunshot victims at another house.

Officers found three bodies in a home on Plainfield Avenue. An hour later, they discovered the other four across town in a ranch-style house on a cul-de-sac called Brynell Court.

“It makes no sense to try to rationalize it, what the motives were,” Belk said. “You just cannot come up with a logical reason why someone takes seven peoples’ lives.”

Authorities identified the dead as: 29-year-old Jennifer Marie Heeren, an ex-girlfriend; 12-year-old Kamrie Deann Heeren-Dantzler, Dantzler’s daughter; 52-year-old Rebecca Lynn Heeren, Jennifer Heeren’s mother; 51-year-old Thomas Heeren, her father; 23-year-old Kimberlee Ann Emkens, a woman Dantzler had previously dated; 27-year-old Amanda Renee Emkens, Kimberlee Emkens’ sister; and 10-year-old Marissa Lynn Emkens, Amanda Emkens’ daughter.

Autopsies were scheduled for Friday.

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