A man who was seen arguing with his wife Tuesday later killed his four young children in their home with a hunting rifle before turning the gun on himself, officials said.
The children apparently died of gunshots to the head, and their father, Trevor Branscum, 38, died of a self-inflicted wound, according to Mayor Jim Bonta.
Police Sgt. Vince Inaudi said that evidence was consistent with a murder-suicide but that the department planned to conduct a full homicide investigation.
Authorities identified the dead siblings as Aubrie, 12; Jacob, 10; and twins Taylor and Alyssa, both 5.
The family had lived in Gustine for a few years, and police were unaware of any previous problems with the family, Bonta said.
“They were happy; they were doing fireworks together last night,” Bonta said.
The bloodshed came about an hour after a store owner called police to report that Trevor Branscum and his wife were arguing.
Amanda Branscum went in to buy a few things, and her husband followed her into the market, police said. The merchant said that as the woman drove away in a van, her husband dove through the window. The store owner declined to comment on the dispute that preceded the violence.
As officers searched for the van, police said, another call came in at 1:30 a.m. of shots fired at the Branscum home. Officers saw Amanda Branscum lying in the road uninjured; the bodies of Trevor Branscum and the children were inside the house.
Gustine, with a population of about 5,200, is about 90 miles northwest of Fresno in California’s San Joaquin Valley.