The last homicide in Scott County was 20 years ago, in 1993.
Manchester resident Julie Hardwick, 48, said she lives in the same county housing authority complex as the victims. Authorities told her she couldn't return to her home yet because of the investigation, she said.
"The kids were really nice," Hardwick said of the family. "You couldn't ask for better kids."
The Rev. Robin Lyons of Manchester United Methodist Church, one of two churches in the community said, "this shows tragedy can happen anywhere."
Two area school superintendents said they received calls from county sheriffs before 6 a.m. informing them that five people had been shot to death at a house in Manchester and that a suspect was at large.
Superintendent David Roberts of the Winchester School District and Les Stevens of the North Greene Unit District No. 3 both said they immediately canceled classes when they were told of the shootings and that other school districts did the same.
Roberts said the wounded girl is a student at Winchester Grade School and her teacher was with her at the Springfield hospital.
The school will use its own counselor, nurse and other staff members to help students who need to talk, Roberts said. Other area districts have offered to help too.
Roberts said he also will call on area ministers to be available on campus. "I've found that to be helpful in the past," he said.
Associated Press writers Don Babwin and Jason Keyser in Chicago and David Mercer in Champaign, Ill., contributed to this report.