A mother and her four children with autism were among seven victims of what authorities are investigating as a murder-suicide on the family’s rural farm in the Australia town of Osmington.
Police are focusing their investigation on the woman’s father as the potential gunman. The father was also found dead at the scene along with his wife, daughter and their four grandchildren, sources told The Weekend Australian.
“I can only describe [it] as an horrific incident,” Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said at a news conference, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Dawson added, “Two firearms have been located.”
A family friend identified the victims to the network as Katrina Miles; her children Ryan, Taye, Ayre and Kadyn, ages 8 to 13; and Miles’ parents Peter and Cynda Miles, who owned and also lived on the property where Katrina home-schooled her kids.
Mark McGowan, the Premier of Western Australia, said in a tweet that the events were “tragic and shocking,” according to The Morning Bulletin.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
In his news conference, Dawson said authorities were called to the property at 5:15 a.m. Friday by a male whom he did not identify, but who had a connection to the property.
Katrina Miles lived with her kids in a converted shed on her parents’ property, The Australian reports. Her mother was well-known for community involvement in nearby Margaret River, a popular coastal surfing and tourist destination; her father was a farm maintenance worker.
“All four children kept journals and the eldest, 13-year-old Taye, had become a mentor to younger autistic children — acting as a guide on a recent excursion to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory,” the outlet reported. “Taye had begun to receive attention for searingly honest writing that chronicled her own experience.”
The family members were “caring neighbors,” said Felicity Haynes, who lived nearby, according to the ABC. “They were just such lovely people.”
The incident was widely reported as the worst mass shooting in Australia since 1996, when Martin Bryant killed 35 people and wounded 23 others with a semi-automatic rifle in Post Arthur.
After that shooting, the nation adopted stricter gun laws some credit with reducing the number of mass shootings.