Grandfather suspected in shooting deaths of 6 in Australia

Police investigate the death of seven people near Margaret River, Australia, Friday. Investigators believe a 61-year-old man killed the other six and then himself. Photo by Richard Wainwright/EPA-EFE

May 14 (UPI) — Australian police believe a 61-year-old man shot his wife, daughter and four grandchildren last week in the country’s deadliest mass shooting in more than two decades.

Authorities said Peter Miles shot his wife Cynda, their daughter Katrina and the four children, ages from 8 to 13, near Margaret River in Western Australia Friday. Miles was also found dead, police believe from a self-inflicted gunshot.

It was Australia’s deadliest mass homicide since 1996.

Son in-law Aaron Cockman said Miles had struggled after the suicide of his son about 10 years ago. News that his other son needs a kidney transplant may have prompted the shooting, Cockman said.

“Peter has been trying to hold it together for a long time,” he told reporters. “I thought there’s no way possible he could lose another son, he’ll kill himself.

“He thought, ‘I can’t live anymore, so this is it for me. But I need to take out everyone because that will fix the whole problem.’ And he’s fixed the whole problem.”

Police said they have no information about family problems or financial difficulties. Miles was known in the coastal community as a farm manager and handyman.

Cockman said he’s sad, but not angry at the deadly turn of events that led to the loss of his children.

“He made a personal decision to talk and he can say what he wants. We are supporting him and the broader families to ensure they get the professional assistance they need,” West Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said. “No one can underestimate the trauma and the grief here, he did want to make a statement and he’s entitled to do that.”


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