In a daring robbery, a lone gunman opened fire, killing an aged couple and injuring three others, including two children, at Neelankarai here on Monday evening.

The armed suspect was overpowered by local people and handed over to police. A .32-mm pistol was recovered from him.

According to police sources, the accused, whose name was given as Rajan alias Shanmugasundaram (35) of West Saidapet barged into the house of Elango (69), a retired ship captain, at Panaiyur at around 5 p.m. He opened fire indiscriminately at Elango, his wife Ramani (63), daughter-in-law Vasanthi (38). While the couple succumbed to bullet injuries, Vasanthi fell unconscious in a pool of blood.

He then attacked Vasanthi’s children Praveen (12) and Priyanka (8), who received cut injuries.

Presuming them dead, the accused, who came in a car, bolted the house from outside and left. When he came back, the door was locked from inside.

Vasanthi, who regained consciousness, had locked the door and called one of her relatives in Kottivakkam. Even as Rajan tried to force open the door, a man known to the family and some local people nabbed him. Vasanthi, who suffered four bullet injuries, was rushed to a private hospital where her condition was said to be critical.

Her husband, Vidya Shankar (42), had gone to the airport to see a friend. “It appears that the accused opened fire without any provocation. Almirahs and cupboards in the house were ransacked. He was probably searching for something. Preliminary enquries reveal that Elango was trying to sell a property on the city outskirts. Vidya Shankar, who works in France, had come on a holiday with his family to see his parents. They had planned to leave (for France) in a few days. They seem to be French nationals,” a senior police official said.

The two children were said to be “out of danger.”

Commissioner of Police T. Rajendran said, “We have some vital clues. The role of more than one person in the incident cannot be ruled out. A car found abandoned near the house was seized. We have formed three teams to probe the case,” he said.

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