LAUREL, Neb. (KCAU) – UPDATE: The Nebraska State Patrol has revealed more details regarding Thursday morning’s incident in Laurel, including confirmation of gunfire.
The Nebraska State Patrol is urging public vigilance after an incident in Laurel, Nebraska took the lives of four and damaged two homes.
According to a release from the Nebraska State Patrol, gunfire is now being suspected to have played a part in the incidents at both the home at 209 Elm Street and the home at 503 Elm Street. The revelation comes after fire suppression efforts were successful and investigators were given time to examine the homes.
The fire at 209 Elm Street was originally reported as a house explosion and it’s now believed by officials that the fire at 503 Elm Street was started at around the same time and it just was not visible from the outside of the home for hours.
The Nebraska State Patrol is requesting that if anyone has seen anything out-of-the-ordinary between the hours of midnight to 4 a.m. to report it to the NSP immediately by calling 402-479-4921.
The previously reported silver sedan is believed to have left Laurel later than originally reported, according to officials.
The Nebraska State Patrol, Cedar County Sheriff’s Office and Laurel Police Department are urging residents to be vigilant and report anything they see to law enforcement and dial the number above or 911.
One resident of Laurel told KCAU 9 that they think the lack of having a suspect in custody is concerning.
“A little bit, yes it does, because like I said, we don’t know what to expect. There’s been a lot of different people running through town,” said Linda Gobell.
This is an active investigation. Additional details will be added when they become available.
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PREVIOUS: Col. John Bolduc of the Nebraska State Patrol confirmed four people have died in the community of Laurel, Nebraska. At this time, no one has been arrested in connection to the four deaths.
Bolduc said initial reports of a house explosion came in just after 3 a.m. Thursday morning. The explosion happened at 209 Elm Street. Fire crews responded to the call and officials said that they found one person dead inside. Nebraska State Patrol, Laurel Police Department, and Cedar County Sheriff’s Office also responded alongside fire crews.
While at the scene, a second fire was reported three blocks away at 503 Elm Street. Bolduc said three more people were found dead inside at the scene.
All fires have been put out and both scenes are currently being investigated by officials. Fire investigators believe accelerants were used in both fires. Additionally, they think anyone who may have been inside the home at that time may have burn injuries.
After the second fire, Bold said a silver Sedan was reported to have been seen leaving the town west on Highway 20. The man is currently being described as a black male. Officials also said that the driver allegedly picked up a passenger.
Due to the early stages of the investigation, no identities of the victims are being released to the public at this time. Bolduc said that they don’t know the cause of death for the four people and will be relying on the medical examiners for that. Foul play is expected.
Alan Pallas, a witness, told KCAU 9 that he heard a gunshot in the early morning.
“It was not something I was expecting,” Pallas said. “Usually, the lady sits out there and has a cigarette in the morning. I thought that was what she was doing until I heard the gunshot. Then reality sets in.”
Bolduc didn’t say if the two incidents were related, saying it wouldn’t be surprising if so.
“We have two fires with deceased people three blocks apart. It would be a stretch to say there is no connection, but it is very early in the investigation, and we hope to find those answers in the coming days,” Bolduc said.
Cedar County Sheriff Larry Koranda said that it is a very tight-knit community as he urged the community to reach out if they know anything.
“We don’t know for sure if people knew each other, but everyone knows everyone in this small community,” said Koranda. “I think people just need to be diligent. If they see something out of the ordinary or something they’re not used to, please contact the state patrol […] so investigators can follow up on those leads.”
Koranda said he thinks the community is a safe one but that an event like this affects everyone.
“It shakes everybody up. Not only the neighbors but like I said, a small community of a thousand people, everybody knows everybody,” Koranda said. “It doesn’t only affect the neighbors or somebody in close proximity, but it also affects the EMS that responded, the fire that responded today and are currently working the fires. So, it affects everybody. We’re grateful for what they’re doing because until their job is complete, the investigation is not complete.”
Authorities are requesting that anyone that may have any information including potential surveillance video to contact the Nebraska State Patrol. NPS asked to be contacted by phone at 402-479-4921.
Laurel City Hall is currently under a voluntary lockdown until 5 p.m.
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PREVIOUS: Multiple deaths have been reported in a Cedar County town.
On Thursday, witnesses reported seeing a large law enforcement presence in the Nebraska town of Laurel. The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) stated there are multiple deaths, and the situation involved multiple scenes.
An official with the Laurel City Hall told KCAU 9 News they were advised to enter a lockdown status by the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office. A reporter at the scene said a part of West 3rd Street is blocked off with cones.
The NSP also explained they are actively investigating the deaths. The agency will hold a press conference Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at a local church.
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Wesley Thoene contributed to this report.