Residents were asked to stay indoors for much of the day Thursday as police searched for a 51-year-old Massachusetts man in connection with a homicide that occurred earlier in the morning.
A woman was fatally shot in the head in a residence on Stevens Street in Lowell around 7:30 a.m., according to investigators.
The suspect, Ross Elliott, fled the scene and remains on the loose. Police said he is believed to be armed and dangerous, and he should not be approached. He was last seen wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans. Anyone who sees him or knows of his whereabouts is asked to call 911 or contact Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or state police at 781-897-6600 immediately.
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Residents of the area were asked to shelter in place, but that order was lifted shortly before 11 p.m.
Police announced just before 8 p.m. that a resident ran into Elliott on Barton Avenue while authorities were searching for him. He allegedly showed a gun and ran away.
"Mr. Elliott produced a handgun, pointed it at the resident, and then fled on foot," said Lowell Police Superintendent William Taylor. "Elliott was last seen heading on Pine Street, on foot, armed with a handgun."
The victim, a woman in her 40s, was treated at the shooting scene and taken to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Authorities have not identified the victim, but they said she and Elliott knew each other and had previously been in a "domestic relationship," according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.
The victim was shot in a common area of her apartment building in front of other family members, including her young daughter. The child was not hurt.
"It's horrible. It's absolutely horrible. No child should see something like that," neighbor Lynne Manning said.
One neighbor said he saw a woman being taken away in a black car, while another said he saw an older woman transported by ambulance with what appeared to be a bad cut on her forehead.
According to court documents, Elliott has been arrested several times, including in February 2005, when he was charged with armed assault to murder after he allegedly held a 5-inch knife to his girlfriend's neck. He was also charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in December of 2005.
On Thursday morning, police officers and SWAT team members were on Stevens and Gorham streets. Aerial footage from NBC Boston's Sky Ranger helicopter showed at least a dozen police vehicles gathered at the two locations. A Gorham Street residence believed to be connected to Elliott has been secured, the district attorney's office said.
"The investigation is proceeding very quickly," Lowell police Chief William Taylor said.
Around 3:30 p.m., police appeared to be focusing their search on the area of Academy Drive, about a mile and a half from the scene of the murder. Multiple cruisers were in the area and a state police helicopter was flying low overhead.
Shortly before 5 p.m., Lowell police said they were searching Highland Street, specifically the Pine Street/Stevens Street/Cupple Square area. Residents are being asked to stay indoors and report any suspicious activity to police.
The investigation is active and ongoing and is being conducted by the district attorney's office, Lowell police and state police.