A tragic incident unfolded in Verdigris, Oklahoma, as a woman and her three children were discovered dead after a prolonged standoff on Thursday. The identities of the victims have not been disclosed, and the ages of the children remain unconfirmed.
The incident began in the small northeastern town of Tulsa around 4 p.m. on Thursday. Local police officers were alerted to a situation by a firework explosion near a residence, according to Hunter McKee, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). The officers, sensing something was amiss, proceeded to investigate the situation and called for additional support.
Police Chief Jack Shackleford told reporters that an officer, upon reaching the scene, found a woman and two children locked in a garage. The woman informed the officer that she had brought another child for a supervised visit to the house, where an armed woman took the child and locked her and the two other children in the garage. The officer managed to rescue the woman and then called for backup.
Multiple law enforcement agencies, including a SWAT team from the Cherokee Nation, responded to the call. Despite their efforts, there was no response from the armed suspect inside the house, leading to a three-hour standoff.
The standoff concluded when police entered the house and discovered the bodies of the woman and three children, all with gunshot wounds. A handgun was found at the scene, leading authorities to investigate the incident as a potential murder-suicide.
The police revealed that they had been summoned to the same residence multiple times in the past for domestic and mental health disturbances. The relationship between the two women is still unclear. The OSBI is currently overseeing the ongoing investigation.
According to the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit organization that monitors gun violence, the United States sees nearly 600 murder-suicides annually, resulting in 1,000 to 1,500 deaths. A significant majority of these incidents, 65%, involve intimate partners, and 81% occur at home. The Gun Violence Archive reports that there have been 382 murder-suicide incidents in the U.S. this year as of July 21, following 670 reported incidents in 2022. This marks an increase from 594 in 2021 and 570 in 2020, suggesting that 2023 could surpass last year’s total.