A mother and her three children were found dead on Thursday inside a northeastern North Dakota home, and police said their deaths were apparent homicides and a suicide.
Police said 35-year-old Astra Volk and her children, 14-year-old Tyler Talmage, 10-year-old Aidan Talmage and 6-year-old Arianna Talmage all had gunshot wounds. A handgun was found at the scene in Grand Forks and no suspects were being sought.
Police went to the home on Thursday morning after administrators at Lewis and Clark Elementary School asked police to check on the family. The responding officer saw what appeared to be a body inside the home on Grand Forks' south side and went in.
Grand Forks Public Schools said in a statement that families were notified and it was working with the schools the children attended to provide support and counselling to students and staff.
Paula Stevens, 58, who lives two doors down from the house where the four were found, said the family had moved into the house just a couple months ago.
"Three little kids and their mom — oh my goodness," she said.
Stevens said the house "sat empty forever" until it was recently renovated and the woman was living there as a renter. Stevens said she rarely saw the family because the woman worked odd hours and the long winter kept the kids indoors.
"This is scary," Stevens said. "Now I want to watch out for my neighbours and make sure they're OK."
Stevens and others described the neighbourhood as a safe, quiet residential area. The house where the family was found was surrounded by crime tape on Thursday. The garage door was opened more than halfway, and a pink child's bicycle was overturned in the yard.
"It's a little frightening because Grand Forks is supposed to be like a safe town, a place where you can keep your doors unlocked," said Caralyne Ronai, a senior at the University of North Dakota who was walking through the neighbourhood.
"Four dead is upsetting to hear."
- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter