Police release graphic details of murder of Richmond couple


RICHMOND, Ky. (FOX 56) – We have learned more about what happened outside of a Richmond duplex Tuesday afternoon. But police still haven’t released a possible motive for the shooting that killed two people.

We are also hearing firsthand from witnesses.

We want to warn you: some of the details may be hard to read.

The shooting happened around 2:20 Tuesday afternoon.

A woman who lived across the street from the duplex said she heard two gunshots. She said when she looked outside her front door, she saw 51-year-old Thomas Birl fire several shots into a pickup truck with a woman inside.

“I look to my left and he was at the cab of a truck that was out there and had already shot the man and he was laying on the concrete, he was at the cab of the truck, shot about three shots into the cab of the truck like he was really trying to kill the person in the truck,” neighbor Deborah Fennell said.

She said she also saw a man on the ground who had already been shot and was screaming. She said Birl walked over to him and shot him in the head.

Richmond police have identified the two people killed as Christopher and Gracie Hager. Property records show they owned the duplex where the shooting happened. Neighbors say Birl lived there with his girlfriend.

The shooting would lead to a standoff with police that lasted hours. They said at some point Birl set fire to the building.

“Smoke was coming out. I mean it filled up this whole area. You couldn’t even see, I couldn’t see my mailbox right there,” Fennell said.

Birl would eventually be taken into custody and police say he’s currently in a medical facility being watched by officers.

One witness said she had had run-ins with Birl before. She also said she didn’t hear any kind of argument before those shots were fired.


“He was vicious about it. He was, when he was shooting that poor woman, he was taking the gun and pushing at it like this and shooting at the same time,” Fennell said. “Like he couldn’t kill her hard enough for something. He was vicious. And he was vicious when he turned around and shot the guy, the last blow that killed him. That completely silenced him.”

Police and fire investigators were back at that home today. While we know the Hagers owned that property, police said their preliminary investigation did not indicate the victims were at the residence to serve notice of eviction.

Birl is facing Two counts of murder, one count of first degree arson, one count of tampering with physical evidence, and one count of first degree criminal mischief.

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