AUSTIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Mecosta County community continues to mourn the loss of three children and their mother.

The four were killed last Friday. Investigators believe the family’s father is responsible for their deaths.

Deputies were called to a home in Austin Township around 2:30 p.m. on Friday on reports of shots fired. When they got there, they found the children and their mother, 40-year-old Dawn Gillard, shot and killed.

The children were just 3, 4 and 6 years old. Their names were Joshua, Ronald and Katelynn, respectively.

Deputies also found the family’s 51-year-old father with a gunshot wound to the head. Investigators believe he shot his family before turning the gun on himself, according to Mecosta County Sheriff Brian Miller.

The man is currently in critical condition at University of Michigan Hospital. The sheriff’s office has not released his name, pending formal charges.

The oldest child, Katelynn, was a student at Morley Stanwood Elementary School, Superintendent Roger Cole said.

“It does make you want to make sure you go home and hug your kids,” Cole said.

On Monday night, Cole helped organize a candlelight vigil on the school’s football field to bring the community together as it processes tragedy.

“As a school, we talk on a regular basis about how we try to act like a family,” Cole said. “So if we can extend that out to the greater community, we should.”

“Everybody has to grieve and there’s been grief from all our employees since Friday afternoon and through the weekend,” Cole added. “Especially some of those that were closest. Others have things in their past that this brings out great trauma.”

Elementary students return to school on Tuesday. As they process the loss of one of their classmates, trauma specialists and counselors will be there.

“Not only do we grieve differently but at different age levels you grieve differently with your level of understanding, your ability to wrap your brain around this,” Cole said. “I’m 55 years old and I have not wrapped my brain around it.”

As many struggle with tragedy, the superintendent reminds people they’re never alone.

“Don’t do it alone,” he said. “There’s phone numbers, there’s people, there’s people who thrive at helping. That’s what they want to do. They want to help you.”

The investigation is ongoing. The Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office asks that if you have any information, contact Detective Sergeant Mike Mohr at 231.592.0150.