A man has now been charged with the murders of a mother and daughter who were found dead in their home.
Craig Savage, 35, has been charged with the murders of Heather Whitbread, 53, and her daughter Michelle, 32, who were killed in St Leonards, East Sussex on Friday.
Savage, of no fixed address, has also been charged with robbery in relation to the theft of a .22 calibre rifle and ammunition from a St Leonards’ store on the same day.
The 35-year-old is though to have been known to the mother and daughter.
Heather Whitbread, 53, and her daughter Michelle, 32,(both pictured) were found dead in St Leonards, East Sussex on Friday night
Yesterday, we revealed the first pictures of the mother and daughter who were found dead in their home on Friday.
Heather Whitbread, 53, and her daughter Michelle, 32, were found dead in St Leonards, East Sussex after reports of gunfire at their semi-detached house.
The family of the victims have paid tribute to them, saying they were beautiful people ‘that filled our family with laughter’.
In a statement, the family said: ‘They were both special, generous and kind people who loved life, but most of all their family.
‘They will both be sorely missed leaving a gap that can never be filled. We now just wish to be left to grieve in private as a family.’
Firearms officers were dispatched to St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, following reports of gunfire shortly before 8pm on Friday, where they led two other women from the house to safety.
Heather (pictured) and her daughter were both found dead in their semi-detached house
The other women, including Heather’s daughter Raven, 24, who is pregnant with a baby girl, were unhurt but were suffering from shock and taken to hospital.
There are unconfirmed reports that the attacker was an ex-partner of Raven.
Inspector Mark Rosser said: ‘It was one of those nights where you knew something bad was happening, but it got even worse as it unravelled.’
The road remains closed throughout Saturday as ‘more than 30’ families were displaced.
Armed police were called to the scene after reports of gunfire at the semi-detached house
The bodies of Heather Whitbread, 53, and daughter Michelle, 32, were seen being carried out of a house in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex
Crime scene: A police tent is set up outside the home in the quiet seaside town as officers investigate
The road remains closed this morning as ‘more than 30’ families have been displaced following the incident
‘More than 30’ families have been displaced Inspector Mark Rosser, a critical incident inspector in East Sussex
Police outside home in St Leonards where two people were found dead last night
The home in Bexhill road, St Leonards where two women were critically shot by a 35-year-old man reportedly known to them
In a press conference at Hastings Police Station, Chief Superintendent Jason Taylor reiterated what police knew about the attack and praised the community for their patience.
He said: ‘I would like to begin by saying our thoughts are with the family and friends of the two victims who died following a shooting at an address in Bexhill Road last night.
‘Officers responded immediately to reports of a shooting shortly before 7:45pm.
‘Two women died at the scene.
‘Two other women, who were also at the house, were led to safety and were taken to hospital for shock.
Police search near home in St Leonards where the mother and daughter were found dead last night
Police have been on the scene at a home in St Leonard’s since last night
Police have said they aren’t looking for any further suspects
Chief Superintendent Jason Taylor reiterated what police knew about the attack and praised the community for their patience
He said: ‘I would like to begin by saying our thoughts are with the family and friends of the two victims who died following a shooting at an address in Bexhill Road last night
‘They are being supported by specially trained officers.
‘A 35-year-old man, who was known to the victims, was arrested on suspicion of murder and taken into custody where he remains.
A railway underpass near the house which leads to a beach was searched late into the night where it is believed police arrested the gunman.
The 35-year-old man was apprehended two hours after the shooting and taken into custody on suspicion of murder and a firearm was seized.
Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said: ‘Tragically two women aged 32 and 53 have died after being shot and our thoughts are with their family and friends.
‘We are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident but we are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.’
Last night, a neighbour who has lived known the family for a decade paid tribute to the ‘lovely family’.
‘The tragedy is that two generations of the same family have just been killed’ Chris Woodhead told the Sunday Times.
‘Raven will probably want to tell her story at some point, but I don’t think the whole world needs to know the ins-and-outs yet.
‘He [the suspect] will have his day in court. Right now, people should be mourning the family.
The Whitbreads are originally from Islington, north London, and lived in Wales before moving to St Leonards in 2008.
Local business leader Brett McLean paid tribute to the family on social media.
He said: ‘My thoughts go out to the family, friends and neighbours of Heather and Michelle Whitbread whose lives were tragically taken away yesterday in Bexhill Road, West St. Leonard’s.
‘Here’s wishing Raven and her friend a speedy recovery following such a horrific and traumatic incident.’
Heather is believed to have been estranged from her daughters’ father, Stephen Poskitt, and bought her house in cash for £180,000, according to Land Registry records.
Michelle worked as a painter and decorator. Raven, is said to be expecting a baby girl. They are thought to have at least one other sibling, a brother called Adam.
Police outside the home in St Leonards where two people were shot dead last night. The road remains closed this morning
Police have launched a murder investigation after two women were found dead in the quiet seaside town of St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex (pictures from the scene)
Firearms officers were dispatched to St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, following reports of gunfire at 7:32pm last night. They were able to lead two other women from the house to safety
The two victims, aged 32 and 53, remained in the house overnight as forensic investigators collect evidence
Bystander Emma Nicholson was on the main road with her husband when a black 4×4 full of armed police swerved and stopped in front of them on Friday night.
She told the Sun Online : ‘They jumped out and took cover behind the car. A couple of them were right behind our car. It was very shocking.’
She said the armed police shouted: ‘Eyes on, eyes on… have we got eyes on?’
Miss Nicholson, who lives nearby, added: ‘They were shouting for all of us to move. We can still hear helicopters overhead and police sirens rushing past.’
James Butler described how he was driving east towards Hastings on the A259 when he was stopped by a police vehicle.
He added: ‘I was driving along when I saw a car coming towards me flashing its lights at me.
‘Five seconds later, I saw why. I had to brake pretty hard because I realised that there was an unmarked police car in the road.
A railway underpass near the house which leads to a beach was being searched late into the night where it is believed police arrested the man
He was apprehended two hours after the shooting and taken into custody on suspicion of murder and a firearm was seized
Forensic invesigators pictured collecting evidence at the murder scene
‘People seemed to be confused, they didn’t know how serious it was.
‘Then one driver tried to drive past the police car. All of a sudden, police officers were shouting, ‘Get back, get back, your life is at risk, do not come past, turn around!’.
‘There were police officers with guns and torches shining into nearby houses.’
A source told MailOnline prior to the arrest that police were looking for a man in his thirties wearing dark clothing
The scene of the shooting, which is close to Hastings
He said: ‘We are doing our best to get people back to their homes – really sorry for the disruption, we are trying to minimise the scenes as quickly as we can. One male is in custody and this was not a random act.’
He added that there were ‘more than 30 displaced families’ and that it was ‘one of the worst shifts’ he’d worked in 25 years on the force.
Witnesses claim there were as many as 15 ambulances at the scene including the air ambulance and Hazardous Area Response Teams.
Steve Weir, who lives just 500 yards from scene of the shooting, told MailOnline on Friday night: ‘We heard a few bangs and didn’t think anything of it.
‘My missus then went to leave the house not long after to go and pick up one of the kids who is down for the weekend, but she was then diverted by police and told to go in a different direction.
‘She was sent away for her own safety, according to police, and she hasn’t been allowed back into the house.’
An armed police officer leaving an unmarked vehicle near the scene
Mr Weir added: ‘Since then, we’ve had helicopters over the scene.
‘They’ve been searching all the back gardens and have come to knock on our door.’
James Butler told the Hastings Observer he was driving east towards Hastings on the A259 when he was stopped by a police vehicle. He said: ‘I was driving along to go and see my boyfriend Michael for dinner when I saw a car coming towards me flashing its lights at me.
‘I wondered why they were doing it, I thought I didn’t have my lights on. ‘Five seconds later, I saw why. I had to brake pretty hard because I realised that there was an unmarked police car in the road.
Two people were injured in the shooting earlier this evening and armed police arrived to secure the scene
Sussex Police have dispatched several officers to the scene
Sussex Police have been turning drivers around from the A259 from the Ravenside Retail Park to Bulverhythe area following the incident
‘People seemed to be a bit confused, they didn’t know how serious it was.
‘Then one driver tried to drive past the police car. All of a sudden, police officers were shouting ‘get back, get back do not come past, turn around’.
‘There were police officers with guns and torches shining the light into nearby houses.
‘A couple of minutes later, a lady came over and asked what was going on. She was visibly taken aback by the situation, and seemed quite scared.
‘The next thing she said to me was ‘I’m going inside, I’m not staying out here, it’s not safe’.’
Armed police were spotted leaving their vehicles and entering a black car which had parked on a nearby kerb, with shouts coming from nearby. Blacked-out saloon cars, unmarked vehicles and 4x4s were also spotted near the crime scene.
Sussex Police have been turning drivers around from the A259 from the Ravenside Retail Park to Bulverhythe area following the incident.
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