GRAHAM, Wash. (AP) – A man who fatally shot his five children and killed himself had just discovered his wife was leaving him for another man, authorities said Sunday.
The bodies of James Harrison’s children, ages 7 to 16, were found with multiple gunshot wounds Saturday in the family’s mobile home, most of them in their beds. Harrison’s body had been found earlier in the day with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, behind the wheel of his idling car.
The night before, the father and his eldest daughter went in search of his wife, Angela Harrison. The daughter used a GPS feature in her mother’s cell phone to find her with another man at a convenience store in nearby Auburn, said Ed Troyer, spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff.
The woman told her husband she was not coming home, and was leaving him for the man with her at the store. The father and the daughter left, distraught, Troyer said.
Sometime after the children went to sleep, he shot each of them multiple times. Four died in their beds. The fifth was found in the bathroom, surrounded by signs of violent struggle.
”He wanted the kids dead,” Troyer said. ”It wasn’t like he shot a few rounds. He shot several rounds.”
Investigators believe he then returned to the area near the convenience store looking for his wife. His body was found near the store, Troyer said.
”We think he was going to go back to kill the wife,” Troyer said. ”He probably didn’t find her and realized the gravity of what he’d done and shot himself.”
Several weapons were found in the home.
Authorities have not released the names of the family. Relatives identified the couple as Angela and James Harrison and the children as Maxine, Samantha, Heather, Jamie and James.
Ryan Peden, Maxine’s classmate, had said she told him Friday night that her parents had gotten into a fight and her mother had left. The father followed the mother and tried to get her to return, Peden said.
”Maxine texted me at 11 p.m. Friday. She said: ”I’m tired of crying. I’m going to bed,”’ he said. His text to her the next day went unanswered.
Candy Johnson, an aunt of the mother, described Harrison as a strict, controlling husband and father who didn’t allow his wife to make decisions without asking him first.
”My niece has been so controlled from the time she was young,” Johnson said, adding that Harrison had impregnated Angela when she was 13.
State child welfare officials put Harrison on a parenting plan in 2007 after a ”minor assault” on one of the children, Troyer said, adding that the father agreed to the plan and the case was closed.