Police in Sumter, South Carolina, on Wednesday confirmed a domestic incident that resulted in the deaths of two men and three children.
Sumter Police Chief Russell F. Roark III said the shootings occurred at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday at a home on Whitetail Circle, according to WIS-TV. A father reportedly shot the three children while they were in bed, then allegedly killed a man in the backyard before taking his own life.
Police said there is no apparent threat to the public as they continue to investigate.
“Three children and two men, one of whom is believed to be the shooter, were found shot and killed,” police said in a release. “An investigation is ongoing and details will be released at a later time.”
Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for the police department, told the Sumter Item that at least one person involved in the shooting survived. It is not clear what condition the person is in or any relation to those killed.
Authorities have yet to reveal the identity of the victims or a possible motive.
“Sumter School District is grieving the loss of three students,” Sumter School District Superintendent Dr. William Wright said in a statement released to WIS-TV regarding the deaths of the three children. “Two siblings attended Millwood Elementary School, and another sibling attended Alice Drive Middle School. Our sincere condolences are extended to the family.”
Newsweek has reached out to the Sumter Police Department through its Facebook page for comment.
The use of guns in incidents that involve murder-suicide has risen, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which said that 2022 had the highest number of murder-suicides using firearms on record.
Some 670 occurred last year, up from 594 in 2021 and 570 the year before. As of March 9, there have have been 134 murder-suicides involving guns, the GVA reported, meaning 2023 is on course to top last year’s total.
Family mass killings in which the perpetrator died by suicide have also risen in recent years, according to a database compiled by USA Today, the Associated Press and Northeastern University.
James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, previously told Newsweek about the frequency of murder-suicides and how they fail to get equal media attention as other types of shootings.
“People don’t see that as impacting them,” he said. “That’s not going to happen to their family. [These domestic incidents] happen, unfortunately, with great frequency so they’re not going to get covered that much because they’re, unfortunately, not that unusual.”
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