Mother, autistic children among 7 shot dead in gun-controlled Australia
- Author: Kyle Peterson May 13, 2018,
May 13, 2018, 9:27
Peter Miles, 61, his wife Cynda Miles, 58, their daughter Katrina Miles, 38, and her four autistic children - Taye, 13, Rylan, 12, Arye, 10, and Kadyn Cockman, 8 - were all found shot to death on the grandparent's property on Friday in Osmington, near Margaret River in WA.
Although police said that they are not searching for a suspect, they would not confirm reports that the incident was likely a murder-suicide.
However, on Saturday, Dawson said one woman was found inside the main house.
"The loss of any life is tragic, but four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy", he told reporters in Perth.
"I wish to strongly emphasise that police do not believe any other person is involved with these crimes", he said.
The children's father, Aaron Cockman, was a local carpenter and builder, news.com.au reports. Instead, Western Australia authorities are referring to what may have been a domestic incident as a "mass shooting".
Mr Dawson described the discovery as "devastating".
All the victims appeared to be residents of the property, police said, but did not explain how they were connected.
The shooting happened in the small town of Osmington, close to Margaret River, a popular tourist destination renowned for its wine, surf and natural beauty.
While the police investigation is ongoing and forensic investigators have not formally identified the bodies, Commissioner Dawson took the unusual step of naming the people who homicide detectives are confident are the deceased. He added that two local police officers arrived at the property within 45 minutes of the triple zero call.
"It's just horrifying, just horrifying", Haynes, a family friend, told 9 News Australia, explaining that she heard three gunshots - and then two more - at about 4 a.m., but did not think much about it, assuming somebody was shooting at kangaroos.
The case is particularly unusual given Australia's strict gun laws, which are often pointed to as examples for other countries struggling to prevent mass shootings.
But locals in the local community say they "can't get their head around" the suggestion that Mr Miles could be responsible.
Public records said Cynda Miles worked for a community group and the children were all home-schooled.
The Augusta-Margaret River Shire is trying to pull the community together, offering professional support services at the Margaret River Community Centre on Tunbridge Street and encouraging people to leave flowers there as a tribute.