Four children and three adults were found dead with gunshot wounds on Friday in a rural home in south-western Australia, in an incident that has sent shockwaves through the small community.
Police are treating it as a murder-suicide and said they are not looking for any suspects.
West Australian Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said officers were called to a building in Osmington in the Margaret River region, 270 kilometres south of Perth, early Friday.
“The loss of any life is tragic, but four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy,” he told reporters in Perth.
Osmington is a small rural community with some 135 residents. It has a handful of farms, vineyards and stud farms.
According to local media, three generations of the same farming family were involved in the incident and two of the adults were the grandparents of the family.
Dawson did not identify the victims. He said the bodies of two adults were found outside a building, while the remaining five bodies were discovered inside.
“It appears that gunshot wounds are there, but I don’t want to go further than that as two firearms have been located,” Dawson said.
He said police were tipped-off by a man connected to the property but did not elaborate.
“Police are currently responding to what I can only describe as a horrific incident,” he said.
“This will be a very large-scale and detailed investigation.”
All the victims appeared to be residents of the property, police said, but did not explain how they were connected.
Police are still trying to locate next of kin and friends.
Libby Mettam, a local parliamentarian, said the deaths had sent “significant shockwaves” through the town and the community was hurting.
“This is a much-loved family, a big part of the Margaret River community,” Mettam told reporters.
Felicity Haynes, a former local councillor, who lives next to the property where the incident took place, said the family involved had moved in just three years earlier and were “caring neighbours.”
“They were a very socially aware family, doing their best to create a safe community, and that is why it is so shocking to think that could be destroyed so quickly,” she told broadcaster ABC.
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan described it as “tragic and shocking.”
Local media have called it “the worst mass shooting incident” in decades.
In 1996, 35 people were killed over two days in the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. That mass shooting prompted strict gun laws in the country, including penalties of up to 14 years in jail for unregistered firearms.
“We have been lucky that all forms of gun-related deaths have reduced dramatically since we took that step of having less guns,” Glynn Greensmith, an expert on mass shooting incidents, told ABC.
“But there are as many guns now in Australia as there were at the time of the Port Arthur massacre.”