A man shot and killed his three children and a chaperone before turning the gun on himself at a church in California’s state capital on Monday, authorities said.
Deputies had been called to the church in the Arden-Arcade neighborhood of Sacramento on Monday evening after a church employee had heard gunshots and called 911, said Sgt. Rod Grassmann with the Sacramento county sheriff’s office.
The deputies found five people dead, Grassmann said, including the gunman and three victims under the age of 15. The shooting had occurred in the main sanctuary area, he said.
Later on Monday evening, the Sacramento county sheriff, Scott Jones, said investigators believe that the shooter had been estranged from the children’s mother, who had a restraining order against him.
Investigators believe the shooting happened during a supervised visit with the children, Jones added. The fourth victim, an adult, was the chaperone. The shooter’s identity wasn’t immediately released.
Officials didn’t know if the family members belonged to the church, which sits on a mostly residential block near a commercial area east of downtown Sacramento.
It wasn’t immediately known how many people were at the church or if there were any services or activities at the time of the shooting.
“Another senseless act of gun violence in America – this time in our backyard. In a church with kids inside. Absolutely devastating,” tweeted the California governor, Gavin Newsom.