A Michigan father shot his wife and three children to death, before turning the gun to his own head, pulling the trigger and surviving, authorities allege.
Though they withheld the name of the accused killer, Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office deputies identified the victims as 40-year-old mother Dawn Gillard and her children Joshua Gillard, 3, Ronald Gillard, 4, and Katelynn Gillard, 6.
Authorities say that the father survived a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head—and that they expect him to face charges once he recovers. They identified the man only as 51 years old, the children’s father, and Dawn’s husband.
“Their mother, 40-year-old Dawn Gillard was also killed, presumably by their father and husband, a 51-year-old male, who then is believed to have turned the firearm on himself, leading to a gun shot wound to the head,” authorities said.
He is at the University of Michigan Hospital in critical condition, authorities wrote.
Deputies expect him to be charged and arrested.
“The matter continues to be under investigation with no information gathered at this time to indicate what led to the tragic event,” they wrote. “The MCSO will be forwarding the report to the Mecosta Prosecutor’s Office to review for charges against male in relation to the actions leading to the four deaths. The male’s name is being withheld until he is arrested and formally charged.”
Hailey Salisbury, the children’s half-sister and Dawn’s daughter, previously identified them. She also named the man as her stepfather Charles Gillard. She said that he shot and killed the family, and he was in critical condition.
“I am in total shock. I am so devastated,” she said, according to WZZM.
Authorities said they went to the home in Austin Township on Friday at approximately 2:30 p.m., responding to a report of a man with a gun and shots being fired at a local home.
Deputies found four people dead at the scene: three children under the age of 10, and a woman. The man survived a gunshot wound to the head, authorities said. Authorities at the time did not say how he sustained this injury.
“We’re not exactly sure what the circumstances were,” Mecosta County Sheriff Brian Miller said on Saturday, according to MLive. “It’s tragic by all accounts.”
Superintendent Roger Cole of Morley Stanwood Community Schools confirmed in a letter dated Saturday that one of the children was a student at Morley Stanwood Elementary School.
“Tuesday will be a challenging day for everyone; staff and students alike, when school resumes,” he said. “Besides our own social workers and staff, we will have additional counselors and trauma specialists at the school to work with students as they need. It is important that our staff, students and families come together to support each other during this time of loss, and at the same time wish each other well and say good-bye for the summer.”
The school district held a candlelight vigil Monday night for the children and their mother.
“I’ve seen lots of tears from grown men and grown women,” Cole told WZZM. “I’ve heard people ask the the question that everybody asks, ‘How does that happen? How does the person do that?'”
[Screenshots via WZZM]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]