Western Australia murder suicide, Seven people, including four children and three adults, have been found dead at a home near Margaret River in Western Australia’s south west.
The bodies were found on a rural property in Osmington, a small village about 20 kilometres north-east of Margaret River.
Cynda Miles and her husband Peter lived at the property.
Neighbours said their daughter Katrina and her four children aged 8 to 13 also lived on the farm. Police have not confirmed the victims’ names but have said they believe they were residents at the property.
The family was well-known in the local community and neighbours and friends spoke of their shock and devastation.
Friend Tracey Taylor spoke of Katrina’s commitment to understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder and home schooling. It is understood that some of her children were autistic and home schooled at the farm.
“She (Katrina) and her mum were absolutely giving and amazing supports in the community,” she said.
Police went to the rural property just after 5.15am (local time) after being alerted by a phone call from a man.
The bodies of two adults were found outside the property, while five bodies were found inside a building, WA police chief commissioner Chris Dawson told reporters.
Friends say Katrina, the children and Cynda have been killed, but it is unclear who the other victim is.
Cynda and Peter Miles bought the 30-acre hobby farm in late 2014.
Cynda Miles is well known in the Margaret River area where she is a a stalwart in the sustainability community, volunteering with the local Transition Network and leading recycling initiatives including Cynda’s Soft Salvage.
Her husband, Peter, is a farmer and teacher, formerly the manager of the Margaret River High School farm, and ran a handyman business.
In a website about the family-owned farm, Ms Miles said it had always been her dream to own a self-sustainable property in the countryside that her grandchildren could grow up on.
“Forever Dreaming is our forever farm,” she wrote. “It is here that we will grow as much of our food as we can, sit on the veranda and watch the birds, and watch the grandchildren immerse themselves in the animals and everything else that happens on a daily basis.
“It is from here that Peter will run his farm maintenance and repair business. When we have too much we will share it if we can – it is in the giving that community is built!”
Neighbour Richard Dosser said he had spoken to someone who lived in the house who worked as a farm maintenance worker on Thursday.
“He was meant to come meet me tomorrow because he was going to look after my property for me while I was away,” he said. “When I think back he sounded strange on the phone… a bit vague about the whole thing I remember thinking it was odd.”
Mr Dosser said he’d received a frantic call from a friend on Friday morning who knew the family and was searching for confirmation of who the victims of the shooting were.
“She was very upset, she was devastated as she was quite close with the family,” he said. “It is a tragedy, it is appalling, it really is. Most of my neighbours are retired and it’s a really quiet area. It’s beggars belief that something like this could happen here. We’re just shocked and devastated.”
Neighbour Felicity Haynes told Radio 2GB gunshots had been heard, but no one realised what had happened until police began to arrive.
“All the neighbours are in shock… this is a very quiet, peaceful community, mostly rural blocks,” she said. “We all know each other, all support each other… for something to happen like this is quite horrifying.”
Police are not looking for any suspects at this time.
“This is a horrific incident,” WA police chief commissioner Chris Dawson said.
“The loss of any life is tragic, but four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy.
“It appears that gunshot wounds are there but I don’t want to go further than that as two firearms have been located at the scene.”
The shooting is the worst mass shooting in Australia since the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.
Specialist units from Perth, including the Homicide Squad and Forensic Crime Scene Unit, have been sent to the scene.
The commissioner would not speculate on a motive but said that, at this point, police had no concerns about wider public safety.
He could not reveal any more about the identity of the people either, as police were still trying to locate next of kin, but he said police believed all seven appeared to be residents of that property.
“We are trying to locate other members of the family, and friends,” he said.
“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 south-west,” he said.
The commissioner said the police chaplain had been called to attend the scene of the tragedy to support the emergency services.
The events in our South West are tragic and shocking. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims, and also with the first responders and investigators as they piece together this tragic set of circumstances.
Neighbour Rob Broun lives in the house across the road from the property where the shooting took place.
He said detectives came to speak to him about 9.30am Friday but he hadn’t heard loud noises or any unusual sounds coming from the property overnight.
“There was nothing much I could tell them,” said the semi-retired farmer.
Mr Broun said he came down to the farm on weekends from Perth so he didn’t know the residents of the property very well.
“I’d seen who I assume was the father out in a paddock one day, on a tractor. But I didn’t have the opportunity to say hello.”
Forensic vans, police and detectives are still arriving at the property, which is about 90 metres from his farm.
“It’s just a bit surreal, isn’t it? I worked in the media for 30 years and you report on these things from time to time, but you don’t expect them to happen just across the road,” he said.
The president of the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River said the tragic deaths at a property south-west of Perth have impacted upon everyone in the community.
“It’s sending shockwaves through the whole community – we’re all linked in one way or another, every family,” Pamela Townshend said.