An Ohio family of five is dead in what authorities have described as a murder-suicide.
Police were called to the family’s home on Wednesday morning to perform a wellness check, at which point responding officers found all five family members dead inside, the Elyria Police Department said in a news release. Authorities later said that all five members of the family — two parents and three children — died after sustaining gunshot wounds. Police believe that John Nelson, 44, fatally shot his wife, 35-year-old Robin Nelson, and their three children — 12-year-old Gavin Nelson, 10-year-old Brianna Nelson, and 6-year-old Liam Nelson — before turning the gun on himself.
Authorities did not indicate a possible motive for the killing. The incident is still under investigation by the Elyria Police Department and the Lorain County Coroner’s Office, according to the release.
Police were prompted to check on the residence after John Nelson, who worked at a plastic bag factory, failed to appear at work, worrying his boss, local outlet WOIO reports. What authorities found at the family’s home has left their loved ones shocked.
“They were a typical family,” Ben Runyon, a cousin, told WOIO. “They kept the three kids busy. They were in baseball and volleyball and soccer and ballet. There was two boys and a girl and the wife worked as a nurse and he worked down the road at a plastic bag factory and he lived here his entire life.”
All three children were students in the Elyria City Schools district, which released a statement on Wednesday mourning the loss and announcing that counselors will be made available for students and the community.
“The Elyria community is grieving the loss of a family of five in a tragedy that occurred last night in the city,” the statement reads, in part. “With profound sadness we must report that the three children who died — all siblings —were students in our school district. This devastating news has deeply shaken our staff and school community.”
John, a printer at Creative Packaging in Elyria, and Robin, a nurse, were married for 11 years, according to an online obituary. On the night before the family was found dead, a neighbor reported hearing gunshots that she initially thought were fireworks, WOIO reports. Another neighbor reported hearing the couple arguing outside recently. When John Nelson’s boss went to his house to check on him on Wednesday morning, no one answered; he found shell casings in the driveway and called the police, according to the WOIO report.
Robin Nelson’s obituary describes her as a devoted wife and mother who loved her family. The two oldest children were involved in soccer, which their dad coached; the youngest played tee-ball, and John Nelson coached him as well.
Ann Schloss, Elyria Schools Superintendent, said in an open letter that the three Nelson children were “deeply loved by their teachers, principals, fellow students, neighbors, friends and family.”
“The people who love them could speak for hours at length at the irreplaceable goodness these young people brought to our school buildings,” she continued. “And there are truly no words adequate enough to describe the pain that arises from a tragedy of this immensity.”
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