A dad with a known history of domestic violence has murdered his two young daughters before killing himself.
Police say Aaron D. Williams, 32, shot nine-year-old Ava and her six-year-old sister Alyse Williams before turning the gun on himself at their home in Columbus, Ohio.
Officers were called to the family’s apartment block on Friday at around 10.20pm by neighbours who had heard arguing.
When they arrived they heard gunshots and found the little girls in the flat.
Williams was also found with self-inflicted gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead an hour later.
Ava and Alyse were rushed to OhioHealth Doctors Hospital where they both died just after midnight within half an hour of one another.
It is not known where the girls’ mum was at the time of the murder-suicide.
Erica Osborn, a family friend, described the girls as ‘so bright and full of energy’.
She added: “They were part of a loving family, and this was very unexpected. From every angle we could tell, their father loved them. I just can’t imagine. I don’t know how he did it. I don’t know how he was able to do this to them.”
In a statement on Saturday, Columbus police Chief Thomas Quinlan said: “Our hearts break for their devastated mother, and all who loved them.
“Behind every badge is a human — a mother, father, sister or brother.
“And while we have a job to do — a job we signed up for — we hurt too. We grieve with these families.”
He added that he is working to make ensure officers who responded to the call have the support they need.
Williams had faced previous domestic violence charges in the past and had been charged by Columbus police in September 2018, with intent to harm and assault to which he pleaded guilty.
He was given a three-day suspended sentence.
A crowdfundraisng page has been set up by Erica to help the girls’ heartbroken mum pay for their funeral.