Pleasanton CA May 10 2012 A mother and her 13-year-old daughter were found shot to death in their home Monday night, shocking the quiet suburban neighborhood where they had just moved from the Midwest on Christmas Eve.
Police responded to a 911 call reporting a shooting about 6 p.m. and found Amy Freeman Burton, 37, dead from a gunshot wound at the home in the 3500 block of Stacey Court, near Interstate 580, said Lt. Jeff Bretzing.
Her daughter, Ainsley Freeman, was also wounded by gunfire and was taken to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Bretzing said. She was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
After receiving the 911 call from Christopher Burton, Amy Freeman Burton’s husband and Ainsley’s stepfather, officers recovered two handguns in the home, including one found near the victims.
Investigators have not said how many shots were fired or if one of the guns was used in the shooting.
Christopher Burton told police he got the guns, which are not registered, from his brother in Arizona, Bretzing said.
There were no signs of forced entry and no previous incidents reported at the home, police said. Police said they have not been able to determine whether any injuries were self-inflicted.
“We’re still treating it as a homicide” until autopsies, expected to be done Wednesday, and other tests are done, said Bretzing
Christopher Burton is a person of interest in the case, but only because he is the only surviving member of the household,
Bretzing said. “He’s not a suspect,” he said. “He’s cooperating in the investigation and has given a full statement.”
In February, police said they joined the FBI in investigating a report from the Burtons that Ainsley had been communicating over the Internet with a suspicious male. The investigation revealed the suspect was a 16-year-old boy from Kentucky, and no crime had been committed, Bretzing said.
Christopher Burton had described Ainsley’s mother as becoming “paranoid” about the teens’ communication, police said, adding there is no connection between the incident and the shooting deaths. However, Bretzing said police are following up with the boy.
Investigators don’t know the whereabouts of Ainsley’s biological father, police said.
Linda Walp, Amy Freeman Burton’s mother, said she would be shocked if the slaying was a murder-suicide because the victims had a very good relationship.
“Each one would have taken a bullet for the other,” Walp said when reached by phone Tuesday at her Missouri home.
She described Ainsley as “a straight-A student and a sweet, nice little girl.”
Amy Freeman Burton grew up in Chesterfield, Mo. — about 20 miles west of St. Louis — and graduated from the University of Kansas, Walp said.
The Burtons and Ainsley previously lived in O’Fallon, Mo.
Christopher Burton, 28, took a tech job in the Bay Area last year, and his wife and Ainsley moved in December to join him, Walp said.
Before the move, Amy Freeman Burton worked as a compliance officer for a number of companies in the St. Louis area. In January, she began work as an administrative manager for UBS Financial Services in Walnut Creek, but she resigned in mid-March, UBS spokeswoman Karina Byrne said.
Bretzing said Freeman Burton began a new job a week ago but wouldn’t say where.
Walp said she found out about the slayings while watching TV news at home.
“Who would want to murder my daughter?” she said. “She’s only been in the state for six months. What’s the deal here?”
Walp said her daughter and granddaughter grew up in suburban communities like Pleasanton.
Stacey Court is a quiet cul-de-sac of middle-class homes with tidy yards. On Tuesday, there was no police presence outside the home. The only sign anything had happened were the media news vans parked on the street and a simple bouquet of lilies left on the porch.
One neighbor, who did not want to be named, said police said there was no reason to believe other residents are in danger.
“Of course it’s safe here; it’s Pleasanton,” the neighbor said.
At Thomas S. Hart Middle School, where Ainsley attended classes, word spread quickly Tuesday about the deaths.
Erin van der Zee, a language arts teacher, said Ainsley was a standout student, despite the fact that she had just started there in January.
Van der Zee noted she had high grades and within two weeks had been asked to be a teaching assistant. She said the teen had found a good group of friends.
School officials canceled STAR testing Tuesday and will reschedule it later.
Stacy Webb, a language arts and social sciences teacher, said it would be hard for students to concentrate on the tests.
“It’s a really hard day for anyone,” Webb said. “It’s hard to imagine someone losing someone so young.”
School district spokeswoman Nicole Steward said 12 counselors were on hand Tuesday and saw about 100 students. Extra counselors will be on call Wednesday.