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Husband, wife killed in Richmond shooting; man in custody after standoff with police

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 3:50 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - Well-loved by many in the community, police say Christopher and Gracie Hager were shot and killed outside of an apartment building they owned on Keystone Drive. Quickly after, the suspect barricaded himself inside the apartment.

The situation then took another turn after police say he then set the apartment on fire.

Police say 51-year-old Thomas Birl is in custody now.

We’re told they first got calls of the shooting around 2:30. After police arrived and discovered Birl inside the apartment, they tried for hours to negotiate with him to come out safely.

The Keeneland to Aqueduct Drive areas were closed off to try and keep people out of harm’s way because as police said, bullets could have started flying at any time.

Once police had a warrant, they used rounds of powdered gas to smoke Birl out.

While this was going on, Birl set a fire in the duplex, causing extensive damage inside. Smoke from the fire covered the entire street but was quickly put out.

Police say Birl then gave himself up and came out a window sometime around 6:30.

They took him to a hospital in an ambulance as precaution but say he wasn’t physically hurt.

“The sad news is we had a daughter who the coroner had to call before we got here and let her know that both her parents are gone. That’s not an easy call to make. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those involved,” police chief Rodney Richardson said.

Police have not released a motive or what happened before the shooting. They also have not released Birl’s charges at this time.

We’re told Christopher Hager was 54 and Gracie Hager was 52. They were prominent Richmond business owners and well-known throughout the community.

Several friends held a prayer vigil Tuesday night for the husband and wife.

The Hagers own a Shell mart near EKU’s campus, and other properties. Christopher was a realtor in the city.

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