Seven people, including several children, have been killed in a shooting at a rural property in southwest Australia, police said on Friday, making it the country’s deadliest mass shooting in more than 20 years.
The incident happened at about 5:15 a.m. local time when officers were called to a residence in Osmington, a small community near the town of Margaret River, about 225 kilometers (140 miles) southwest of Perth.
“Upon arrival, police located 7 persons deceased: four children and three adults,” Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said. “The bodies of 2 adults were located outside [and] 5 bodies were located inside a building on the rural property.”
Dawson said the victims appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds and two firearms were found at the scene. “It’s still early in this investigation, but based on what we know, this is clearly a tragedy,” he said.
Information about a suspect was not immediately released, but investigators suggested that it appeared to be a murder-suicide. Dawson said those killed are believed to have been residents at the property.
A death toll of 7 makes it the country’s worst mass shooting since 1996, when a man went on a shooting spree in Port Arthur in Tasmania, killing 35 people and injuring dozens more. It prompted Australia to enact fundamental changes to gun control laws.