The bodies of four children and three adults were discovered in what may be the first mass shooting Australia has experienced in over 20 years. Police responded to a property at approximately 5:00 am local time on Friday and encountered the gruesome scene, which is being described by local law enforcement as a “horrific tragedy.”
Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson stated that the incident occurred in a rural property in Osmington, an area near the Margaret River.
The bodies of two adults were found outside of the home, and an additional five bodies were discovered inside.
Two firearms were also located at the scene.
“It appears that gunshot wounds are there,” said Dawson, “but I don’t want to go further than that as two firearms have been located.”
He also stated that a “male person” connected with the home had contact police shortly before they arrived, according to a report by ABC.
Police sources have also confirmed that the deaths are being treated as a murder-suicide.
“This devastating tragedy will no doubt have a lasting impact on the families concerned, the whole community and, in particular, the local communities in our southwest,” said Dawson during a press conference.
He also asserted that “wider public safety issues” were not present “at this point in time.”
“This is a horrific tragedy for any person involved and, clearly, officers and other first responders attending these sorts of scenes, they find it tragic,” Dawson added. “We will get on with our job, but, regrettably, these tragedies take their toll on everyone.”
“There’s a priority to these investigations, so we’ll immediately concentrate on the actual scene itself and, as matters are further investigated, naturally, we would be asking for anyone that does know anything about this matter to contact police,” he added.
Australia hasn’t had a mass shooting since 1996 when Martin Bryant went into a café, had lunch, and then pulled a semi-automatic rifle out from his bag and began firing. By the time Bryant was apprehended, 35 people had been killed and an additional 23 wounded.
The incident led to National Firearms Agreement, legislation that banned automatic and semi-automatic rifles, and pump-action shotguns. A large-scale buyback program was launched and, according to NBC News, 640,000 guns were turned into authorities during that time.