Six family members, including five young children, were found fatally shot inside an Oklahoma home on Tuesday morning.
The Muskogee Police Department responded to a call of multiple people shot at around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday. When officers arrived at the home about two hours outside Oklahoma City, a suspect who has since been arrested, 25-year-old Jarron Deajon Pridgeon, emerged brandishing a weapon, police said.
Family members have identified the five children as Quedynce, 9; Nevaeh, 6; Harmony, 5; Jaidus, 3; and Jalaiya, 2. Their mother, Brittany Anderson, is currently in the hospital suffering from life-threatening injuries related to the shooting.
Brittany Anderson’s sister, Raven, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday night that the mother is “awake and talking a bit,” adding, “She still has swelling [in] her brain so she’s not out of the woods yet. We have faith she’ll pull through though.”
“My nieces and nephew had bright futures ahead of them and I know they were going to change the world, but God needed them more than we did, so he called them home sooner than we could've ever expected,” Raven Anderson added in a Tuesday GoFundMe post. “As much as we wish we could, we can’t change what happened. All we can do now is be strong for Brittany and make sure that her beautiful angels rest in peace.”
An officer reportedly fired one shot at Pridgeon as he ran away from authorities—but missed. He was finally apprehended after a short chase. Inside the home, officers found one man and four children fatally shot. Police say the fifth child later died at a local hospital.
“Today tragedy struck our community the likes of which we have not seen in decades,” Muskogee Mayor Marlon Coleman said in a Tuesday statement. “Many of us went to bed resting in anticipation of tomorrow’s hopes, only to have awakened to know that five babies with unlimited potential are no longer with us.”
Muskogee Police spokesperson Lynn Hamlin on Tuesday described the five minors as “small children.” Hamlin said police are working to find a motive but do not believe any other suspects are involved.
“We don’t believe that it’s random but we just don’t have details yet of the why or what happened,” Hamlin told reporters, according to the Associated Press.
Raven Anderson told The Daily Beast that Pridgeon is the father of five of her sister’s eight children.
When asked what she would say to Pridgeon, she said she would ask him “why and what was going through his mind when he did what he did. I would tell him that I hope he pays and that those kids’ faces haunt [him] for the rest of whatever life he has left on this earth.”
Mayor Coleman said the grisly shooting has left the community of about 37,624 residents “paralyzed with grief” and that even “though the suspect is in custody, no court of law or sentencing phase can restore this loss of life.”
Hamlin said all of the victims lived in the home together. Police do not yet know their exact relationship. At least two of the victims have been identified as students at Creek Elementary School, the school district said Tuesday.
“We are saddened by this tragic loss and our deepest sympathies go out to all of those impacted,” Muskogee Public Schools Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall said in a statement. “No words can adequately express our sadness in losing these students and our thoughts and prayers are with this family.”