A WOMAN survived a shotgun bloodbath that saw a man shoot dead his partner and two other women before turning the gun on himself.
Michael Atherton, 40, and Susan McGoldrick were discovered dead by police at a house in Horden, just after midnight.
The bodies of two other women were lying close by in the downstairs rooms of the three-bedroom terrace.
Police made the horrific discovery after the woman aged in her early 20s, who was herself shot, managed to flee covered in blood and banged on the door of a neighbour’s home.
Armed police responded after the alarm was raised at about 11.45pm last night.
According to people who knew the family, Mr Atherton, who was in his 40s, was a shooting enthusiast.
A shotgun was found next to his body.
The lone survivor was treated for minor shotgun wounds after she was found by officers at another home in the same street.
According to reports, the teenager ran to a neighbouring property after being shot and it was the residents of that home who raised the alarm.
After receiving several hysterical calls from neighbours, armed police sped to the scene, but found all four people in the house already dead.
The injured woman, who has not been identified, has since been released from hospital after having shotgun pellets removed from her wrist and shoulder and is now helping police with their inquiries.
A spokesman for Durham police said: “The indications are this happened very very quickly. We had a call at 11.45 on Sunday night saying a number of people had been shot.”
One neighbour, who lives in the street, said: “I was walking home from work at quarter past 12 last night and the first thing I saw was a guy running around covered in blood.
“He was shouting: ‘Someone’s been shot in the head’.
“I knew the family quite well. No-one can believe it’s happened.”
Another neighbour said: “We thought we heard fireworks last night, but when we woke up this morning we heard it was a shooting. It’s horrific.”
Police have cordoned off the house while they carry out a forensic examination of the scene.
According to neighbours, Ms McGoldrick worked at an Aldi supermarket.
A neighbour who did not want to be named said: “Sue was a lovely woman. She had two children.
“They were just a lovely couple. I don’t know why it’s happened and for it to be on New Year’s Day - it’s a hell of a time, everyone was in.
“Micky was a taxi driver and he liked shooting - it was his hobby so I knew he had firearms, it wasn’t a secret.”
Robert Bailey, 72, a long-standing resident of Greenside Avenue, spoke of his shock following the news.
He said he knew the people involved by sight only - and they had appeared ‘normal, ordinary people’.
“There is shock. There is never any trouble here and we have been here for nearly 50 years,” he said.
Another resident of Greensides Avenue, who did not want to be named, said: “I was in bed and was woken up by all the sirens.
“There was about four ambulances and six police cars that came up here. I have never seen so many emergency vehicles in this street.
“I went to the shop this morning and it was all blocked off.
A resident in nearby Shotton Road, who also did not want to be named, said: “It’s always other parts of the country you see this kind of thing. You just don’t think it’s going to happen on your doorstep.
“I hope it’s no-one that I know.”
Labour Party ward councillor Paul Stradling said it was the most shocking incident he had come across in 30 years as a politician.
He said: “I have had a few phone calls this morning asking if I was aware of it - it’s terrible news.
“Greenside Avenue is normally a very quiet area of the village so it has shocked everybody.
“It’s a typical North East village, quiet most of the time with a little bit of anti-social behaviour but crime levels are usually low.
“I will be out and about today and am waiting for further reports from the local police inspector.’
The area around the house has been cordoned off while police carry out a forensic examination of the crime scene.
It is expected to be some time before police are able to formally identify those who have died.
An incident room is being set up at police headquarters in Durham staffed by officers from the force’s major crime team.
The area has been cordoned off since shortly after midnight and police say the house will be subjected to a forensic examination throughout today and probably into tomorrow.
They also believe it will be some time before police are able to formally identify those who have died.
An incident room is being set up at police headquarters in Durham City staffed by officers from the force’s major crime team and is being led by the senior investigating officer, Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry.
Anyone with information is being asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 101 or to ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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