UPDATE 4-Four dead in townhouse shooting in Aurora, Colorado

(Recasts; updates with details)

AURORA, Colo., Jan 5 (Reuters) - A gunman who barricaded

himself inside a townhouse after killing three people in the

home was shot to death by police on Saturday in Aurora,

Colorado, the same Denver suburb where 12 people where slain in

a movie house massacre last July, police said.

The gunman and his three victims, as well as a woman who

fled safely from the home at the outset of the violence and

alerted authorities, were all believed to be related to one

another, police spokeswoman Cassidee Carlson said.

But the motive for the killings was not immediately

understood.

"We're trying to find out what set this guy off," she told

Reuters.

A hostage-negotiation team called to the scene had sought to

talk the suspect into surrendering for about five hours before

police moved to shoot tear gas into the home at about 8:00 a.m.

(10:00 a.m. EST/1500 GMT), prompting the gunman to open fire on

officers from inside, police said.

About an hour later, the gunman began firing at police

again from a second-floor window, and police returned fire,

killing the suspect, according to a police statement following

the incident. No police were wounded.

Officers entering the townhouse found the bodies of the

gunman and three other people - two men and a woman - who were

presumed to have been shot hours earlier before police were

called to the scene.

"None of the officers heard gunshots until they were

directed at us at about 8 o'clock," Carlson said. The woman who

escaped the home also told police the victims were shot before

she fled.

The names of the gunman and his three victims were being

withheld until the coroner could confirm their identities and

notify next of kin, authorities said.

The episode kept residents in much of the surrounding

community awake overnight, as police notified neighbors of an

emergency situation and evacuated several adjacent blocks.

One neighbor, Sunil Pawar, 59, said he received a reverse

911 call advising him to stay inside and away from windows

before police later showed up to ring doorbells and escort

residents of the townhouse development to safety.

Pawar said he opted to stay put, later hearing gunshots,

followed by the voices of police calling to the gunman though a

bullhorn, saying, "Sonny, we want to talk to you, pick up the

phone, Sonny."

Another neighbor, Michael Ignace, 46, said he had previously

spoken with the man suspected of the shooting, and "he seemed

like a reasonable guy, and we talked about motorcycles."

The standoff and shooting unfolded just a few miles south of

the Aurora movie theater where 12 people were killed and 58

others wounded when a lone gunman opened fire there in July

during a midnight showing of the Batman film, "The Dark Knight

Rises."

The suspect in that rampage, former college student James

Holmes, is due back in court on Monday for a hearing in which

prosecutors will seek to convince a judge they have sufficient

evidence to put him on trial.

The Colorado movie theater killings had ranked as deadliest

mass shooting in the United States last year until a Dec. 14

massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, where

a gunman shot 20 school children and six adults to death before

taking his own life. The shooter in that case also had killed

his mother at their home.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Aurora, with additional

reporting by Daniel Trotta and Steve Gorman; Writing by Steve

Gorman; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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