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Australia

Police suspect murder-suicide after seven killed in shooting in Western Australia town

Four children and three adults were found dead on a rural property

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 May, 2018, 11:19am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 May, 2018, 9:12pm

Seven people, including four children, have been found dead on a property in Western Australia after an apparent murder-suicide.

The WA police commissioner, Chris Dawson, said a “significant tragedy” had occurred on a rural property in Osmington, near the holiday town of Margaret River in the state’s southwest.

The death toll makes it Australia’s worst mass shooting since Port Arthur in 1996.

At a press briefing on Friday, Dawson said police had been called to the scene at about 5.15am. They found seven people dead.

Two guns were found on the property. Dawson said the victims had gunshot wounds.

“It appears that gunshot wounds are there but I don’t want to go further than that, as two firearms have been located at the scene,” Dawson said. “It is still very early in this investigation but based on what we do know this is clearly a significant tragedy.”

He said five bodies – four children and one adult – were found inside a building while two other adults were found outside.

Word of the shooting spread through the tiny community on Friday.

“They were just the most gorgeous people,” said neighbour Felicity Haynes. “They were extremely active in the local community.”

It’s understood the family moved to Osmington from Margaret River a few years ago.

Dawson said police were still trying to find other family members and did not release the identities of any of the deceased.

“This devastating tragedy will no doubt have a lasting impact on the families concerned, the whole community and in particular the local community in the South West,” he said. “The loss of any life is tragic, but the loss of four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy.”

Osmington – population 135 – is about 20 minutes drive east of the town of Margaret River. It mostly consists of farms and vineyards.

The Margaret River shire president Pamela Townshend was in a meeting when she received a new alert about the shooting.

“This is going to rock our whole community,” she said. “It’s a place where everybody knows everybody. People are all very connected ... It’s not only devastating for people who know the victims but there’s this feeling of fear generated around violence and gun violence.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan described the shooting as “tragic and shocking”.

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims, and also with the first responders and investigators as they piece together this tragic set of circumstances,” he wrote on Twitter.