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Pierce County man kills 2 young children, wife and self, sheriff’s office says

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -- Authorities say a member of the U.S. Air Force in Pierce County fatally shot his two young children and their mother before killing himself Tuesday morning.

The Pierce County sheriff's office said they found the bodies inside a home in the Fredrickson area near Spanaway, about 45 miles south of Seattle, after the man called 911 reporting that he killed his wife, daughter and son and planned to kill himself.

The victims have not been identified but the sheriff's office said the children —a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy - were shot while they were sleeping and their 33-year-old mother was also shot in bed.

The sheriff's office said the 29-year-old man was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and that the family was originally from the East Coast and the man had been at JBLM for about a year after being deployed in South Korea.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said investigators have learned the father had been upset and had a past incident in which he mentioned suicide. Troyer also stated family members say the couple may have had a divorce proceeding about to start.

"We have not been to this house before and there's no history of domestic violence," Troyer said.

Neighbors told police they heard gunfire at around 1 a.m. A handgun was recovered at the scene.

Daine Patton, who sold the home a year ago to the family, said in an interview that it was a "tragic" situation.

"It really breaks my heart for those kids ... to be killed by their father. That's horrible," Patton said.

Authorities, including U.S. Air Force personnel from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, continue to investigate.