Arts&Culture

Mass tragedy hits Margaret River community hard

Mass tragedy hits Margaret River community hard

Four children and three adults were found dead with gunshot wounds on Friday in a rural home in southwestern Australia, in an incident that has sent shockwaves through the small community.

Gun crime in Australia fell sharply after strict controls were introduced in response to a mass shooting in 1996, when a lone gunman killed 35 people in Tasmania.

That suggested a possible murder-suicide case, but Dawson would not confirm that, the West Australian of Perth reported. Two firearms were found on the property, but it is not known who began the massacre.

Police said they were not looking for a suspect, and were treating the shooting as a murder suicide. "A female adult was found deceased inside the main house and five people were found deceased in what I would describe as a converted shed structure".

Commissioner Dawson wanted to "strongly emphasise that police do not believe any other person is involved in this crime".

Their daughter Katrina Cockman was identified as one of the victims, along with her four children, aged eight to 13, according to local reports.

"The loss of any life is tragic, four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy", he said. "Based on what we do know, this is clearly a tragedy".

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Facebook posts by Katrina and Cynda Miles, quoted by local media, referred to the children as all being autistic and homeschooled.

Dawson refused to be drawn on who the person was that alerted police, their relationship to the victims or whether they heard gunshots.

Augusta-Margaret River Shire president Pamela Townsend said the incident had impacted everyone in the area.

The country had just seen a mass shooting-where four or more people were murdered-a year earlier after a man murdered his wife and three kids when Obama made those comments.

Australia's gun laws are widely acclaimed as a success, with supporters including former United States president Barack Obama saying Australia has not had a single mass shooting since they were implemented. Mrs Miles has been a stalwart in the sustainability community, volunteering with the local Transition Network and leading recycling initiatives including Cynda's Soft Salvage.

He also said the father of the children has been contacted and that police were helping him during this hard time. In response, the country enacted tough gun control laws and a gun buyback program.

A community crisis support centre was opened at the Margaret River Community Centre on Saturday to offer support to members of the public.