The bodies of seven people, including four children, have been discovered following an apparent mass homicide in a small town in Western Australia.
The remains were found in the town of Osmington, some 150 miles south of Perth in the Margaret River wine-growing region of Western Australia.
West Australian Police Commissioner Chris Dawson would not say how the victims died, but indicated that two firearms were found on the property and that “It appears that gunshot wounds are there.”
“I don’t want to go further than that,” he added, concerning how the victims died. He also would not confirm reports of a murder-suicide.
“This is a tragedy – I don’t think any other words can describe how tragic this is,” Western Australia’s Commissioner of Police Chris Dawson said at a news conference, according to The West Australian newspaper. “I can only describe it as a horrific situation.”
Dawson said the dead appeared to be residents of the property, but that their identities were being withheld until notification of next of kin, he said, according to the newspaper. He did not say if all the victims were from the same family.
“This devastating tragedy will no doubt have a lasting impact on the families concerned, the whole community and in particular the local community in the South West,” he said.
Following a 1996 mass shooting that killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia enacted tough gun measures, buying back or confiscating a million firearms, prohibiting all automatic and semi-automatic weapons and imposing lengthy waiting periods for all firearms purchases.
Since then, gun deaths have dropped considerably and gun-control activists in the U.S. and elsewhere have touted Australia as an example of how strong gun laws can reduce firearms deaths.
As we reported in a story in March, “in the 16 years since changes to gun laws were fully enacted in 2002, the number of [gun crimes] has fallen precipitously. The homicide rate has also dropped, although some experts debate whether changes in gun laws are the only factor.”