CUBA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Police in Allegany County believe a long-time feud between neighbors may have triggered a murder-suicide.
An intense manhunt began in Cuba Tuesday night when police found a woman shot to death inside a car. Police later found the suspected shooter dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities are now beginning to unravel what happened.
The community was stunned by the murder-suicide that took place along South Shore Road near Cuba Lake. The police chief says a homicide hasn't happened in the area for the last 12 years.
NYS Police Capt. Steven Nigrelli said, "The victim was shot multiple times by two weapons. Those weapons and a third weapon have been secured as evidence."
Authorities say 61-year-old Susan Babcock was in her vehicle and about to leave her home when she was shot and killed.
"A passerby actually saw the suspect approaching the victim with a weapon in his hand. And that's how we were able to so quickly learn who the assailant was," Capt. Nigrelli explained.
Police say 68-year-old Thomas Jerge, who lives right next door to Babcock, committed suicide after taking her life. His body was found hours later after a massive search at a seasonal camp he owns in the area.
Tim Root said, "It just leaves everybody speechless. In a community like this, to have something like that happen... you just don't expect it."
Authorities say Jerge and Babcock had been feuding for about a year.
Cuba Police Chief Dustin Burch said, "But it had just been minor feuds over parking issues, things of that nature, so like I said, nothing that we ever thought would come to this point."
Babcock had an order of protection against Jerge, and he was arrested in July for violating it.
Chief Burch said, "It's very difficult when they're living right next to each other. That's one of the struggles that we deal with in law enforcement obviously, is trying to keep that peace and trying to maintain those orders, especially when it is a neighbor dispute."
One neighbor told News 4 he was aware of the feud between Jerge and Babcock, but never saw this coming.
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