New York, Dec. 26: Police responding to an emergency call in a Dallas suburb on Christmas morning entered a festively-decorated apartment where they found opened presents, wrapping paper on the floor and seven members of a family dead around a Christmas tree.
One report suggested that the suspected killer, a middle-aged man, had been dressed as Santa Claus.
It appears they had just celebrated Christmas. They had opened their gifts, said Sergeant Robert Eberling, from the police department in Grapevine, promoted as the Christmas capital of Texas.
Other flats in the building, which overlooks a high-school athletics field, were empty and no one in the neighbourhood is believed to have heard the shootings.
Police received a 911 call at 11.30am on Christmas Day but the operator heard only silence on the other end of the line.
When officers entered the flat, apparently after kicking the door down, they found it decorated for Christmas. The dead, four women and three men aged between 18 and 50, were lying near the tree in the living room and were apparently in the process of clearing up.
Neighbours said the street was in a safe middle-class area full of families. Two handguns were found at the scene.