The five family members and a dog found dead inside a Minnesota home on Wednesday afternoon was the result of an apparent murder-suicide, the Duluth Police Department said Thursday. Preliminary findings have led officials to believe the victims suffered gunshot wounds while they were sleeping in their beds.
"In 32 years, we haven't seen anything like this," Duluth Police Department chief Mike Tusken said at a press conference Thursday.
At around 11:18 a.m. on Wednesday, the Hermantown Police Department was dispatched for a welfare check on 29-year-old Brandon Taylor Cole-Skogstad after receiving a report that he was experiencing a mental health crisis — but could not find or make contact with him, Tusken said.
Authorities were later able to get in touch with one of Cole-Skogstad's family members, who alerted police of a message he had allegedly sent stating his intent to harm himself and other family members. Tusken said officers believe the message was eventually published on social media.
Officials then responded to a Duluth residence owned by Cole-Skogstad's aunt and uncle. While knocking on the door, Tusken said officers heard what they believed was a singular gunshot. Authorities then retreated and called for backup.
Police were able to enter the home shortly after 3:00 p.m. with the assistance of robots and drones, Tusken said. Inside, they found a five bodies, including that of the suspect, as well as a deceased dog. A 9mm handgun was found near the suspect. Tusken said that after a preliminary investigation, authorities believe the incident was a murder-suicide and that the victims were fatally shot while they were sleeping.
The victims were identified Thursday as Riana Lou Barry, 44; Sean Christopher Barry, 47; Shiway Elizabeth Barry, 12; and Sadie Lucille Barry, 9. The suspect was identified as Cole-Skogstad.
Tusken said officials could not find any prior 911 calls to indicate a pattern of behavior or concerns for Cole-Skogstad. An investigation is underway.
"Incidents like these shake our sense of safety as a community and the region as a whole," Tusken said.
Duluth mayor Emily Larson referred to the shooting as "deeply traumatic" and "deeply painful."
"It is wrenching to consider what the Barry family might be feeling," Larson said in a statement read at Thursday's press conference. "There is only loss to every part of this story. To the Barry family: our community mourns with you and we share in your pain because your loss is our community's loss."