The victims were identified as John Nelson, 44, his wife Robin, 35, and their three children, Gavin, 12, Brianna, 10, and Liam, six, according to a police statement. The family dog was reportedly also found dead.
The family was found dead inside their Elyria home just after 8 a.m. on Wednesday by Elyria Police Department deputies performing a well-being check on the residents on Willow Park Road, the department said in a press release.
A preliminary investigation concluded that Nelson appears to be the suspected shooter, details surrounding this conclusion were not provided. According to the statement, Elyria detectives are continuing a further investigation together with the Lorain County Coroner’s Office.
A Cousin of the family told outlet The Sun Nelson was previously appointed as the “father of the year” and that nobody who knew the family saw this tragedy coming.
“[He] kept kids super busy in school and after school sports, he coached several of their teams, all three kids,” the cousin told the outlet. “[He was the] kind of guy that works to give the shirt off his back to friends, family, and strangers.”
The department was called to the family home that morning after Nelson didn’t show up at his job. News photographer Bruce Bishop posted a video of police officers at the scene of the family home on Twitter.
A neighbor told The Courier Daily she heard something that sounded like firecrackers going off the night before the horror discovery, as well as the screaming of children, but didn’t think it was due to gunshots.
The neighbor didn’t think much of it at the time and thought it was just several children playing in a pool and some random fireworks. After learning about the shocking family tragedy, she told the outlet, “now I know why they were running around screaming.”
Elyria Mayor Frank Whitfield said “it is with great sadness” to share the news about the loss of the family, according to a statement on the city’s official website.
“It is with great sadness that we share this tragic news,” Whitfield said. “This has been a challenging year—to say the least. Never did we imagine having to share the news that we’ve lost one of Elyria’s families in this way.”
“Elyria mourns with their family and friends who woke to such tragic news. My heart is broken for this family in particular the children,” the mayor continued. “I cannot imagine the pain those close to them must feel and we send our deepest condolences and are here to support them and any of our residents who need our help.”
The city statement reminded local residents about the many mental health organizations that are available to provide aid to those in need.
“If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally or mentally, please connect with one of the following supports,” the statement reads. “Studies show that most people with mental health challenges get better and many recover completely.”
The identities of the family were not released earlier this week in a previous report due to the family not being notified.
The city of Elyria is approximately 23 miles west of Cleveland.