Four people found shot to death on Thursday in a car near a former Tennessee mountain resort were deliberately targeted and not the victims of random violence, authorities said.
Deputy District Attorney General Gary McKenzie said in a telephone interview that investigators are still working to identify the victims. He described them as young and said some may be juveniles. He also said at least one of the victims was female.
The bodies were discovered by a resident of the Renegade Mountain resort community in Cumberland County who saw the parked car on his way to work at about 7 a.m. Thursday. Investigators do not know exactly when the shooting occurred, but believe it occurred within 24 hours of when the bodies were discovered, McKenzie said.
Investigators believe the victims were killed in the spot where they were found, on a side road in the 3,000-acre Renegade Mountain development, about 50 miles west of Knoxville.
McKenzie would not discuss a possible motive for the shootings, but he said investigators have developed some leads that they are pursuing. They do not believe the shooter was among the victims nor were there signs that any of the victims committed suicide, he said.
He said authorities do not believe community members are in any danger.
Homeowners association president John Moore said in a telephone interview that the area is wooded and isolated, with 141 houses and only 43 full-time residents.
“There are 10 miles of road on 3,000 acres,” he said. “It’s easy to get lost or be invisible once you get past the gate.”
Moore said the community had controlled access with a gate until 2010, when new owners got rid of it.
Moore moved to Renegade Mountain in 2006 and calls it “the best place in the world.”
However, he said, residents are fighting the owners of the community over how they have managed it. The residents sued in 2011, and one of their concerns is lack of security.
Since the owners got rid of the controlled access, Moore said, “there’ve been some break-ins, some sightseers, some drug dealers and some parkers.”
Associated Press writer Erik Schelzig contributed to this report from Nashville, Tenn.