(DULUTH, Minn.) — A family of four, including two children, were fatally shot while sleeping in their Minnesota home in what police believe to be a murder-suicide incident, authorities said.
The suspected gunman, a relative of the family, was found dead in the home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Duluth Police Department Chief Mike Tusken said.
“It’s just a sad day,” a visibly shaken Tusken said during a briefing on the incident Thursday.
“In 32 years, we haven’t seen anything like this, when we’ve had four victims of a homicide,” he said.
The victims were publicly identified by police following next-of-kin notification as Riana Lou Barry, 44; Sean Christopher Barry, 47; Shiway Elizabeth Barry, 12; and Sadie Lucille Barry, 9.
Duluth police had responded to the home in the East Hillside neighborhood shortly after noon on Wednesday, stemming from a request for a welfare check in neighboring Hermantown regarding an individual experiencing a mental health crisis.
A family member had provided the Hermantown Police Department with a message the suspect allegedly sent to them and later posted on social media indicating that he intended to harm himself and other family members, authorities said.
Hermantown police were unable to locate or make contact with the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Brandon Taylor Cole-Skogstad. They provided Duluth police with the address of the Duluth home owned by the suspect’s aunt and uncle, authorities said. Duluth police had also received information that the suspect had access to a weapon, Tusken said.
Duluth police who responded to the home heard what they believed to be a single gunshot as they knocked on the door, authorities said.
After securing the scene, police initially used robots and drones to search the premises, though the devices were unable to enter all the rooms, Tusken said. A room-by-room search by a tactical team found the victims in their beds dead from apparent gunshot wounds, he said. A family dog was also found dead, he said.
A 9mm handgun was found near the suspect, the chief said.
A 911 call history search did not indicate any prior concerns involving Cole-Skogstad, police said.
“This is a tragedy for Minnesota, a tragedy for, certainly, the city of Duluth and for this community,” said Tusken, who added that he hopes getting the facts out will provide some “closure and healing.”
No further details were provided amid the ongoing investigation.
Duluth City Council President Arik Forsman told reporters he knew the family, who was known for selling Girl Scout cookies at an East Hillside church.
“No family or community should have to go through what has been happening over the last 24 hours,” he said. “It’s hard to put into words the sadness that I feel as a councilor, as a Duluthian and as a father.”
“That was compounded when the names were released, because these folks were my neighbors in Lakeside,” he continued.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said the incident is “deeply painful” for the community.
“As a parent and member of a family, it is wrenching to consider what the Barry family might be feeling,” she said in a statement. “There is only loss to every part of this story. To the Barry family: our community mourns with you and we share in your pain. Because your loss is our community’s loss.”
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