RPD: Homicide Suspect Charged with Murder, Arson

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On Tuesday afternoon, a reported confrontation resulted in the murders of two Richmond residents.

Witnesses told police that they heard two gunshots coming from the driveway of a Keystone Drive apartment building. When they looked to see what had happened, witnesses allegedly saw 51 year-old Thomas Birl of Richmond standing at the passenger door of a white truck shooting a handgun into the vehicle where two subjects, later identified by the Madison County Coroner as Chris and Gracie Hager, were located.

Following this, Birl walked into his apartment residence before barricading himself inside. Richmond Police officers arrived at the scene shortly after and discovered the two subjects who were deceased as a result of the gunshot wounds.

Emergency officials blocked off both Keystone and Keeneland Drive, as they attempted a negotiation with Birl to exit his residence. As the negotiation process continued for hours, police say Birl started a fire inside the apartment with the intent of destroying it. The apartment complex was inhabited and occupied at the time of the incident, a fact that RPD officials say Birl had every reason to believe.

As the fire grew, the apartment had become nearly completely destroyed with over $100,000 in damage being reported. Birl eventually leaped out of a window to the outside as the blaze grew bigger. Police arrested Birl, before he was transported to Baptist Health Richmond to be examined.

Upon further investigation of the scene, authorities located several empty 9mm shell casings in the driveway of the apartment and the handgun that Birl used to commit the murders inside the room where he was barricaded.

Police charged Birl with Murder, 1st Degree Arson, Tampering with Physical Evidence, and 1st Degree Criminal Mischief. The investigation is still ongoing.