Duluth Police Confirm Bodies Found In East Hillside Home Were Result Of Murder-Suicide
DULUTH, Minn. — Duluth Police confirmed on Thursday that the five bodies found in an East Hillside home on Wednesday were the result of a murder-suicide committed by Brandon Taylor Cole-Skogstad, age 29.
The victims are Sean Christopher Barry, age 47, Riana Lou Barry, age 44, Shiway Elizabeth Barry, age 12, and Sadie Lucille Barry, age 9, who are all from Duluth.
Sean and Riana were Cole-Skogstad’s uncle and aunt, and Riana and Shiway were his cousins.
The Barry’s family dog was also killed by Cole- Skogstad.
Police chief Mike Tusken said during the Thursday news conference that all four victims were shot dead while they were sleeping in their beds.
As the investigation is still in the early stages, Tusken said that he cannot speculate what time the victims may have been shot at this point.
He added that so far, neighbors have not said that they heard gunshots overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.
A 9mm handgun was found at the scene near Cole-Skogstad’s body.
Cole-Skogstad had a residence on Timber Lane Drive in Hermantown, which was the one that Hermantown police went to for a welfare check that morning, but could not find him.
Hermantown Police were able to get in touch with one of his family members, who said that he had sent a message that he planned to hurt himself and his relatives.
The same message was also posted to his social media page.
Hermantown police contacted Duluth police to share the information, including the Barry family’s address that Cole-Skogstad could have gone to.
Tusken said that Cole-Skogstad had previously lived with his aunt, uncle, and cousins at the East Hillside home.
Police had reason to believe that the 29-year-old may have been armed as they looked for him.
Right before 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Duluth police went to the family’s house and knocked on the door. They heard a single gunshot, which caused them to retreat and call for backup.
The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office arrived along with the Superior Police Department, which brought its bearcat.
Duluth officers used drones and robots to search the property from a safe distance.
Just after 3 p.m., Duluth officers and its tactical team went inside the home and found the bodies of the family, the suspect, and the family dog.
The Duluth and Hermantown police departments searched their 911 call histories to see if there had been any past calls of concern about the suspect, but none were found.
“The entire Duluth Police Department would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the Barry family, to those who knew them, and the East Hillside neighborhood,” Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken said. “Incidents like these shake our sense of safety as a community and the region as a whole. In my 30 years of policing, I have never seen anything like this. Sometimes people forget that the officers and investigators responding to the scene have families too. This is devastating for them to respond to, to see, and to process afterwards. I cannot thank the members of our team enough for their service, and for their care for this community.”
The DPD has support services for its employees who have responded to or been affected by tragic calls like this, including Peer Support, its Employee Assistance Program, chaplain services, and therapy which includes one-on-one counseling and stress debriefing after a crisis incident.
“On every level, this incident is deeply painful for our community,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson wrote in a statement. “Especially impacted are the neighbors of East Hillside and first responders. Thank you to neighbors for taking good care of one another and for knowing the beautiful parts of the Barry family. Thank you to DPD for answering the call of public safety. I’m sorry for what you experienced, which is deeply traumatic. As a parent and member of a family, it is wrenching to consider what the Barry family might be feeling. There is only loss to every part of this story. To the Barry family: our community mourns with you and we share in your pain. Because your loss is our community’s loss.”
The murder-suicide investigation is ongoing. Stay with FOX21 for updates.