A prison guard dressed in olive-drab coveralls and a black Civil War infantry hat went on a shooting spree today, killing 13 people, four of them girlfriends and five of them his children.
Police said one other person was wounded in the attacks on homes in Wilkes-Barre and nearby Jenkins Township before the gunman surrendered to police outside a vacant house here after a six-hour standoff.
The man, identified as George Banks, 40, gave up after first dropping a rifle out a window.
Dozens of Wilkes-Barre and Pennsylvania state police converged on the suspect, who authorities said had been convicted in a 1961 shooting incident. He was arraigned on first-degree murder charges and was taken to Luzerne County Jail to await a hearing Oct. 6.
Authorities said they did not know of a motive for the rampage, but Wilkes-Barre Mayor Thomas McLaughlin said police were looking into reports that the shooting may have stemmed from a child-custody dispute.
At the homes, neighbors identified four of the adult women found dead as Banks' common-law wives. Police said all the victims were "interrelated" to the suspect, except for two men.
Medical Examiner Dr. George Hudock called the shootings "the worst tragedy since the 1897 massacre at Lattimer Mines," where sheriff's deputies shot 18 striking miners. District Attorney Robert Gillespie said, "It's like something out of a horror movie."
Police said the suspect, armed with a rifle, gunned down eight people in a home in Wilkes-Barre about 2 a.m. today and two more outside the home. Police said he then traveled about eight miles to Jenkins Township where he shot and killed four other persons about 40 minutes later.
The victims at Jenkins Township were identified as Sharon Mazzillo, 24; her mother, Alice Mazzillo, 47; Kissmayu Banks, 5, and Scott Mazzillo, 7.
Two other youngsters, identified as Keith and Angelo Mazzillo, were in the home but somehow escaped the massacre. Angelo reportedly described the killings to police.
In Wilkes-Barre's East End, three women and five children who lived in a home were shot to death. Two men, apparently passers-by, also were shot, and one of the men died later.
Those killed inside the home were identified as Regina Clemens, 29; Maritanya Banks, 1; Susan Yuhas, 23; Dorothy Lyons, 29; Bowendy Banks, 4; Montanzima Banks, 6; Nancy Lyons, 11, and Farraday Banks, 1.
Neighbors and police said they believed Banks was the father of all the youngsters except Nancy Lyons. Another child lives there but was not at home when the shootings occurred.
Of the passers-by, Raymond Hall, 24, of Wilkes-Barre, was pronounced dead this afternoon. The other man, James Olson, 22, of Plains Township, was listed in critical condition.
Authorities said they believe an M16 military rifle was used in all of the shootings, but there also were reports that the suspect had been armed with an AR15 semiautomatic rifle, a civilian version of the M16, and hand grenades. Police declined to say whether any other weapons were found after Banks' surrender.
During the standoff, police played a radio news broadcast over a bull horn that reported all the victims were only injured. Authorities said Banks had expressed concern for the children and they hoped he would surrender after hearing the phony broadcast.
But instead, Banks yelled back, "I don't believe it."
Banks' mother and friends pleaded over the bull horn with him. A guard from the Chase Correctional Institute in Dallas, Pa., succeeded in convincing Banks to give up.
Banks is a tower guard at the Camp Hill correctional institute, but has been on vacation since Sept. 6.
In September, 1961, Banks was charged with attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon in the robbery of a Scranton tavern. Authorities said he served 7 1/2 years at Graterford Prison outside Philadelphia. A state Bureau of Corrections spokesman said there is no law prohibiting the hiring of offenders but each case is reviewed.