RIVERSIDE, Calif. (WTVO) — A former law enforcement officer opened fire on police, who shot back and killed him hours after he murdered the parents of a girl he “catfished” online, police say.
According to the Riverside Police Department, 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards of North Chesterfield, Virginia, traveled across the country to meet the teenager whom he met online.
Police said Edwards parked his car in a neighbor’s driveway, went to the teen’s home and killed her mother, Brooke Winek, 38, grandfather, Mark Winek, 69, and grandmother, Sharie Winek, 65, and setting the house on fire.
Officers were dispatched at 11:08 a.m. Friday, November 25th for a welfare check on a “young female who appeared distressed while getting into a Red Kia Soul with a man along the 11200 block of Price Court.”
While officers were responding to the call, 911 received reports of a house fire a few houses away from where the welfare check call had come from.
Police entered the home and found the three adults in the front entryway. Once they were taken outside, it was determined they had been murdered, police said.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire.
Authorities were able to track Edwards to Kelso, in San Bernadino County, where he opened fire on deputies who returned fire, striking him dead.
The girl was unharmed and taken into protective services.
Detectives learned that Edwards has been with the Virginia State Police before being employed at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia.
“Our hearts go out to the Winek family and their loved ones during this time of tremendous grief, as this is a tragedy for all Riversiders,” stated Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez. “This is yet another horrific reminder of the predators existing online who prey on our children. If you’ve already had a conversation with your kids on how to be safe online and on social media, have it again. If not, start it now to better protect them.”