A family of three whose bodies were found in a burning home in Riverside were remembered during a community vigil one day after the suspect, who was killed by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies in Needles, was identified as a former Virginia State Police employee.
The suspect was identified as 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards, a resident of North Chesterfield, Virginia.
During the Saturday night vigil, neighbors told ABC7 the three were a husband, wife and the couple’s youngest daughter who lived at the home in the 11000 block of Price Court and were said to be a “neighborly” family that “went out of their way to help the community.”
The victims’ names and ages were released Sunday night by Riverside police. They include 69-year-old Mark Winek, 65-year-old Shane Winek and their youngest daughter, 38-year-old Brooke Winek. A GoFundMe account was set up in their names.
Meanwhile, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to City News Service the suspect died at the scene of a lethal force encounter with deputies Friday and that the shooting was connected to the Riverside Police Department’s investigation of the deaths of three people found apparently murdered inside the burning home in Riverside earlier that day.
The circumstances of the shooting have not been released.
“This is a multi-agency investigation and it’s taking time to sort through and confirm all the details,’ a statement from the San Bernardino department said.
Riverside police were dispatched shortly after 10:30 a.m. Friday regarding a report of some type of disturbance between a man and woman near the home on Price Court, said Officer Ryan Railsback of the Riverside Police Department.
“While officers were on their way, we got other calls of smoke and fire being seen,” he said, adding that it took firefighters “a few minutes to put the fire out.”
Firefighters found the three people — a man and two women — dead inside the home, Railsback said.
Railsback said there was “clear evidence” the victims did not die as a result of the fire,’ the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
“It appears the reason why we went out to the call (the man and woman) may have left in a vehicle,” he said.
The woman involved in the original disturbance call was taken into law enforcement custody at some point, and Railsback said late Friday that police were not looking for any more suspects.
“This whole thing is complicated and it’s going to take a lot to unravel,” Railsback said. “It’s still unraveling and it’s going to take a bit of time.”
As of Sunday morning, nearly $3,000 had been donated on the GoFundMe page. The link is at rb.gy/yo8ecr.
Riverside police urged anyone with information regarding the fire and the three deaths to call 951-351-6050