- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

GRAHAM, Wash. | Investigators think a man fatally shot his five children in their home and killed himself after he found out his wife was leaving him for another man, a sheriff’s spokesman said Sunday.

The bodies of James Harrison’s children were found Saturday in the family’s mobile home in Graham, about 15 miles southeast of Tacoma. Harrison was found earlier in the day, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot, behind the wheel of his car in Auburn, about 18 miles north of Graham.

Authorities haven’t released the family’s name, but relatives have identified them as the Harrisons.

The man and his 16-year-old daughter had found his wife with another man at a store in Auburn on Friday night, Pierce County Sheriff spokesman Ed Troyer told the News Tribune of Tacoma.

Ryan Peden, a classmate of the daughter’s, said she had told him Friday night that her parents had gotten into a fight and her mother had left. The father followed the mother and tried to get her to return, Ryan said.

Mr. Troyer said the woman told her husband that she was not going home, and that she was leaving him for the man with her at the store.

“He was devastated,” Mr. Troyer said.

Investigators said they think the father later killed his children and returned to the area near the store looking for his wife. His body was found near the store, Mr. Troyer said. He left no suicide note.

Four of the children were shot in their beds and the fifth was shot in the bathroom, Pierce County deputies said. Auburn Police Sgt. Scott Near said their father apparently killed himself with a rifle.

Carolyn and Raymond Bader, a former neighbor of the family, told the Seattle Times they often heard the father yelling at the children. The Baders said they called the sheriff’s department and Child Protective Services several times with their concerns.

“We did all we could to help these kids,” Raymond Bader said. “We tried to protect these kids. We did what we could.”

Candy Johnson, an aunt of the mother, described Harrison as a strict, controlling husband and father who didn’t allow his wife to make decisions without asking him first.

“My niece has been so controlled from the time she was young,” Ms. Johnson said, adding that Harrison had impregnated her niece when she was 13.

Neighbor Sherre Lund signed a community notebook left in front of the family’s house. She wrote: “God Bless the five little ones. God bring peace to Mom.”

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