WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A man shot and killed his girlfriend and two of her children early Tuesday before turning the gun on himself, Wyoming police say.
Wyoming Department of Public Safety Chief Kim Koster said the man called a family member and said something concerning that drew that person to the family’s home on Godfrey Avenue SW south of Burton Street. Once there, the family member called police. Officers who responded around 3:50 a.m. found the four people dead of apparent gunshot wounds.
“The initial indication is that this was a domestic situation,” Koster said at an afternoon press briefing. “The motive for this incident remains unclear at this time.”
Police said it looks like the man killed his girlfriend and two of her daughters, ages 13 and 11, before killing himself.
Their names were not immediately released because family was still being notified.
“No one, especially children, should ever feel unsafe in their home,” Koster said. “This is a devastating example of domestic violence. And our officers work tirelessly every day to try to reduce this type of crime in our community.”
Three other children — ages 9, 5 and 2 — were in the house at the time of the shooting but weren’t hurt, the chief said. The two youngest are the children of the apparent shooter and woman who was killed. The 9-year-old is one of the woman’s children but as of Tuesday afternoon, police had not yet clarified who that child’s father is.
“We are still conducting our investigation to determine exactly what (the three surviving children) may have seen or heard,” Koster said. “Obviously, the children are extremely upset by this incident, so we’re taking our time and we are talking to them to determine the details of what they may know.”
The children have been placed in the care of a family member.
“Our hearts just are breaking for these kids,” Koster said.
Neighbors told News 8 that police had Godfrey Avenue taped off much of the morning while they investigated. Later, a family friend dropped off flowers in front of the home.
A woman who said she had known the man for nearly three years said he was supposed to be at her house Tuesday morning. He did construction work for her.
She said she couldn’t believe it when she learned what happened. She drove to the man’s house to see for herself.
“He was crazy about his kids, so it’s like this is really shocking to me,” she said. “Because how he talked about his kids and every time I was on the phone with him, especially with the little one and stuff. I can’t wrap my mind around it.”
She said she spoke with him last week and he said he was having problems with his girlfriend.
“He did tell me he was having some issues with his girl,” the woman, who asked that her name not be used, said. “But nothing to this point. It makes me feel bad because I feel like I probably could have done something about it. But we did talk and it was not, did not, get this intense.”
She said the man was “quiet,” “calm” and “not aggressive” in the time she knew him.
“It’s just shocking,” she said. “I don’t know what could have gone through his mind and what happened in that moment. It’s just unbelievable.”
Police say they found the handgun used in the shooting. Chief Koster said her detectives were still looking in to who owned it.
She said she was not aware of officers previously being sent to the home on domestic violence calls. The man had no previous domestic violence charges, Koster said; only a 2003 drunken driving case.
Wyoming has seen a total of six homicides this year — including the deaths of the woman and her daughters — and all were related to domestic situations. Including the apparent shooter Tuesday morning, seven lives have been lost.
Koster said these cases can take a toll on her officers.
“We understand the implications of children now living without a mother,” she said. “We understand just what lies ahead for these kids and what they’re going to have to overcome.”
Koster urged anyone in a volatile or abusive relationship to seek help. She directed them to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233 or local agencies like Safe Haven Ministries. She added that if you don’t know where you go, you can go to police and they will point you to help.
If you are in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at 1.800.273.TALK.