- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) - Karen and Rex Toothman are struggling to understand what may have led their grandson to fatally shoot his brother and father and wound his mother.

Twenty-year-old Zachary Toothman had his college gear packed on Saturday and seemed ready to head back to Virginia Tech this month to begin his junior year of college, Toothman’s grandmother Karen Toothman was quoted by The Virginian-Pilot (https://bit.ly/2bfFVDP ) as saying.

The next day, Toothman was in custody, booked on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Authorities said he shot his parents and his 17-year-old brother inside the family’s Chesapeake home, with only his mother, Susie Toothman, surviving a gunshot wound to the back of her head. The newspaper did not say whether Zachary Toothman had an attorney.

The suspect’s father, Det. Michael Toothman, served on the police force for more than 30 years, police said.

“It is just so hard to wrap my head around it,” Karen Toothman said. “Everything has been taken away from us.”

“Susie is all we have left,” said Rex Toothman.

Karen Toothman told The Virginian-Pilot that she and her husband discovered that on the morning of the shooting, Zachary told his parents he was not going back to the university. The newspaper reported that he was no longer enrolled at the university after failing out of the school’s ROTC program.

Karen and Rex Toothman described Zachary Toothman as quiet, studious, polite, and close to his family. He seemed to have a good relationship with his younger brother, Matthew, and didn’t show any perceptible signs of mental illness, they said.

They have not seen or talked to their grandson since his arrest.

“I don’t hate Zack, I really don’t,” Karen Toothman said. “The boy needs help.”

She said she talked to Susie Toothman on Tuesday morning. In the afternoon, she said, they were going to start planning the funeral for Matthew and Michael Toothman.

“I told her, ‘I don’t know how we can go on. We’ve lost everybody,’” Karen Toothman said. “And Susie said, ‘We’ve got to.’”

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, https://pilotonline.com

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