GRAHAM, Wash. — A man who fatally shot his five children and killed himself had just discovered his wife was leaving him for another man, authorities said Sunday.
The bodies of James Harrison's children, ages 7 to 16, were found with multiple gunshot wounds Saturday in the family's mobile home, most of them in their beds. Harrison's body had been found earlier in the day with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, behind the wheel of his idling car.
The night before, the father and his eldest daughter went in search of his wife, Angela Harrison. The daughter used a GPS feature in her mother's cell phone to find her with another man at a convenience store in nearby Auburn, said Ed Troyer, spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff.
The woman told her husband she was not coming home, and was leaving him for the man with her at the store. The father and the daughter left, distraught, Troyer said.
Sometime after the children went to sleep, Harrison shot each of them multiple times. Four died in their beds. The fifth was found in the bathroom, surrounded by signs of struggle.
Investigators believe Harrison then returned to the area near the convenience store looking for his wife. His body was found near the store, Troyer said.
Authorities have not released the names of the family. Relatives identified the couple as Angela and James Harrison and the children as Maxine, Samantha, Heather, Jamie and James.
Ryan Peden, Maxine's classmate, had said she told him Friday night that her parents had gotten into a fight and her mother had left. State child welfare officials put Harrison on a parenting plan in 2007 after a "minor assault" on one of the children, Troyer said, adding that the father agreed to the plan and the case was closed.
Ron Vorak, who lives across the street from the family, said he called 911 at about 3:20 p.m. Saturday after one of the family's relatives couldn't get anyone to answer the door.
"He knocked on the door and knocked on a couple of windows," Vorak said of the relative. "He walked around the side of the house, looked into the window. He could see somebody laying on the bed."
The home, about 15 miles southeast of Tacoma, became a makeshift memorial Sunday as neighbors left cards and bouquets of flowers. School officials said they were arranging to have grief counselors available when teachers and students returned today.
"We're going to try to get through this the best we can given the circumstances," said Jeff Davis, Orting School District superintendent. "In a small community like this, we know these kids. Teachers know the kids. All the kids know the kids."