LOWELL — Authorities searched for a suspect Monday in the shooting deaths of two sons of a retired Lowell police sergeant, as friends and loved ones built a makeshift memorial to the brothers.
Keith Callahan, 35, and Joseph Callahan, 29, were found with gunshot wounds at 105 Andrews St. about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.
Keith was pronounced dead at the scene, while Joseph was taken to Lowell General Hospital, where he later died, according to a joint statement from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Lowell Police Superintendent William Taylor.
Both were the sons of retired Lowell police Sergeant Richard Callahan, city officials confirmed Monday.
“This one hits close to home, knowing the circumstances” Mayor Rodney M. Elliott said. “We certainly have our thoughts and prayers in mind for the family.”
Police are looking for a thin, 5-foot-6-inch, light-skinned Asian man 25 to 35 years old in the killings.
A sketch of the suspect shows a goatee that extends a half-inch below his chin and dark hair that he wears in a short ponytail. He was wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, according to a press release from the Middlesex district attorney’s office.
A police cruiser was up the street from the Callahan family home Monday, shielding grieving family members from reporters.
Family members outside the home said they had no comment.
A neighbor, who declined to be named, said Joseph had a baby son.
Another cruiser guarded the home at 105 Andrews St., where the shootings occurred. The building is owned by Evangelos and Joanne Giannopoulos of Dracut, according to Lowell city property records.
The owners did not return a request for comment Monday.
Friends of the family and neighbors set up a makeshift memorial there, poking red and yellow roses through the chain-link fence and leaving bouquets at the foot of the home’s entrance.
Residents on the block where the shooting occurred said Sunday they believed the shots may have been fired during a party, but none reported hearing any commotion.
Elliott said Monday the deaths had left many in the Police Department shaken.
“To have something like this happen to a police officer, it’s very devastating to the Lowell community and certainly to the Lowell Police Department,” he said.
Retired Lowell police officer Jerry Flynn described the victims’ father, Richard Callahan, as a good person.
“He’s a cop’s cop,” said Flynn, who now serves as executive director of the New England Police Benevolent Association. “He’s a standup guy, and, you know, my heart breaks for him and his family. It’s just a tragic, tragic story.”
The shootings came as a shock to a community reeling from the July fire that killed seven in a Branch Street building.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been going through many tragedies in Lowell,” City Manager Kevin Murphy said. “It’s just difficult.”
City officials attributed the violence Sunday to the presence of illegal guns.
The shootings were probably carried out with an unregistered handgun, they said.
“It’s clearly well beyond the time to get serious on handgun controls,” Elliott said. “Illegal handguns are a major cause of crime in the city.”
Lowell police and State Police are investigating the shootings.