A Minnesota man fatally shot his aunt, uncle and two young daughters before shooting himself in a shocking crime that has left the city of Duluth in mourning.
Brandon Taylor Cole-Skogstad, 29, wrote on Facebook shortly before the massacre that he made the “absolutely horrible choice” to kill his family after battling severe mental health issues for years.
Duluth police said Cole-Skogstad killed Sean and Riana Barry, and their daughters Shiway, 12, and Sadie, 9, as they slept Tuesday night.
He then killed the pet dog, before shooting himself when police arrived at the family’s home around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken described the crime scene as the worst he had seen in 30 years.
In a confession posted on Facebook shortly before the killings, Cole-Skogstad said she wished she had made better choices in her life and “ignored the hate her peers hurled at me for so long.”
“I made the absolutely horrible decision to not only take my own life, but also the lives of my Aunt, Riana Lou Barry, my Uncle Sean Barry, and my two sweet, beyond angelic cousins, Sadie Lucille Barry and Shiway Elizabeth Barry,” she wrote. .
The post continued, “I can’t understand how I came to this decision, but I know. If there is a God sitting in heaven, I wish so much that he grants my family the most peaceful heavenly life possible in the afterlife,” he added.
“I love you all and please know that I knew you all loved me. I did my best to fight it. Goodbye.”
Police responded to the property after a family member alerted them that Cole-Skogstad had threatened to harm himself on Wednesday morning.
Officers arrived to hear a single gunshot, believed to be Cole-Skogstad shooting himself.
Duluth Police conducted a tactical retreat and requested backup, including a SWAT team from the Superior Police Department and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.
Just after 3:00 p.m., officers entered the home after using robots and drones to help search the property.
Inside, they found five bodies, including the suspect and a family dog.
Tusken, Duluth’s police chief, described the deaths as a “terribly traumatic event.”
“Incidents like these shake our sense of safety as a community and the region as a whole,” Tusken said.
“Sometimes people forget that the officers and investigators who responded to the scene also have families. This is devastating for them to respond to, see and process afterwards.
“It’s heartbreaking. You can not stop looking at it.
(2/2) will be provided as identities and details are confirmed. TY to the first responders who answered the call. My heart, like yours, absolutely aches for the pain of loved ones and the fear people probably experienced on their last day here with us.
—Emily Larson (@LarsonForDuluth) April 20, 2022
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said, “Tonight we are a community in grief and shock, sharing in the pain of the loss of our people.”
She added: “My heart, like yours, absolutely aches for the pain of loved ones and the fear that people probably experienced on their last day here with us.”
Friends of the family have set up a GoFundme page to help with funeral expenses.
“They were a truly special family who impacted the lives of so many around them,” fundraiser organizers wrote.
“They leave behind their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and many, many friends.”
A candlelight vigil for the family will be held on Sunday night at the family home on East 12th St in Duluth. The public is welcome to attend.