A Florida mother allegedly killed her two young children before taking her own life in an apparent double murder-suicide, WFLA-TV reports. On Wednesday evening, the woman’s husband, who is the father of the children, came home and found his family dead. The father then called 911.
The deceased children were ages 9 months and 3 years old, Pasco County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Rosa said during a press conference on Thursday, according to WFTS-TV. There is no record of any previous incidents involving the family, WFLA-TV reports. Rosa indicated that the mother may have been experiencing mental health challenges at the time of the deaths. “It appears to be a possible mental health illness involving the female, but that’s all I can release at this time,” Rosa told reporters, according to the television station. Investigators believe the mother shot the children and then turned the gun on herself, WTVT-TV reports. Neighbor Bill Florence told WTVT-TV that he heard screaming at the home shortly before authorities responded. “It’s just a tragedy all the way around,” Florence told the television station. “Earlier, about 15, 20 minutes before the sirens, I heard screaming.”
Rosa said there was some sort of dispute leading up to the killings, according to WFTS-TV. Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco appeared to reiterate that point when he described the case as “beyond horrific.”
“People in relationships have arguments,” Nocco said, according to WFLA-TV. “Some people take it a little harder than others. Instead of reaching out and seeking help, people make horrific decisions and it looks like last night somebody made a decision that is beyond horrific.”
Nocco attributed the deaths to what he called a current “mental health crisis.”
“The tragedies we saw last night emphasize the fact that we gotta keep speaking louder and louder and so it gets through to everyone out there. We’re in a mental health crisis,” Nocca told reporters, according to WTVT-TV.
Rosa said the father has been fully cooperative in the investigation and that there are no other children involved in the situation, WFTS-TV reports.
The incident occurred in Land O’Lakes, just north of Tampa.
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. To learn about the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, visit https://afsp.org/risk-factors-and-warning-signs.