Police: Montana man kills wife, 3 young children then self
DEER LODGE, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man shot and killed his wife and three children, set a fire in the family's remote cabin and then killed himself, officials in Anaconda-Deer Lodge County said.
The shootings happened Sunday morning at a one-room log cabin where the family lived in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest about 15 miles southeast of the town of Deer Lodge, Police Chief Tim Barkell said.
Barkell was withholding the names of the victims and the shooter until relatives could be notified.
Detective Steve Barclay said an investigation determined the man shot his wife and 1-year-old child inside, then went outside and shot two other children — ages 4 and 6. He carried the bodies of the children inside and laid them down on a bed in the cabin, Barclay said.
He apparently set fire to a chair and then shot himself. The fire was contained within the cabin, Barkell said.
Coroner Jerry Thomas said the man was 59 and his wife was 37.
The shooter called a friend in Deer Lodge at about 10 a.m. Sunday and "said he killed his wife and kids and now he was going to set the place on fire," Assistant Police Chief Bill Sather said Monday.
The friend called 911.
Authorities responded from another nearby town, Anaconda, and it took them a while to find the cabin where the family lived, Barkell said. They then had to wait for firefighters to arrive.
Barclay said officers had not determined a motive for the shootings and officials hadn't had a chance to fully interview the friend who made the 911 call.
The family had lived in the cabin full time for a couple of years, but had moved to Montana from out of state. Barclay was not sure where they were originally from.
Barkell said he knew nothing about the family and the shootings were the "first dealings we've ever had with them."
Three semitrailers were parked on the property near the cabin, and tents and tools were scattered around. A horse belonging to someone else was in a pen at the back of the property. The owner planned to pick it up later, Barclay said.
Thomas transported the bodies to the state crime lab in Missoula on Sunday afternoon. All five had been shot with a handgun, Barkell said.
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