• Police discovered the bodies when responding to a welfare-check
  • Neighbors heard the cries of a man asking for help outside the apartment
  • The life-threatening wounds on the woman rushed to hospital were self-inflicted

Three children were found dead and a woman critically injured in an apartment in Merced County, California. Cops discovered the gruesome scene after running a welfare check at a residence near Brice and Cook streets in Le Grand around 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Upon entering the residence, officers found the bodies of three children under the age of eight and a woman with life-threatening injuries.

"Apparently, there was a gentleman that was screaming for help," Daryl Allen with the Merced County Sheriff's Office said to KFSN.

Elias Vargas, who lives nearby said he was home when he heard the man screaming for help. Vargas then saw the man walk back and forth between the complex and Le Grand Elementary just a few feet away from the scene.

"He said, 'My kids were killed!' so that's when I realized something serious happened there at the house," Vargas said, as per the outlet.

The woman was airlifted to a local hospital for treatment and remains in critical condition. Deputies did not reveal the cause of death for the children but confirmed that the woman had self-inflicted injuries.

Authorities are investigating the incident as a murder-suicide. It is unclear if the woman and children were related.

"We're still in the beginning stages of our investigation," Allen said, the Merced Sun-Star reported. "All of our detectives just got out here on scene so we're currently investigating what happened. We're trying to collect statements from people who were in the area."

The tragedy has shaken the neighborhood and people are looking for answers. "I'll just call it a family," Allen said, KFSN reported. "Le Grand is more of a family. Everybody in this town knows everybody. It's definitely going to hurt a lot of people."

Earlier this month, three children in California fled their home after their mother and her boyfriend died in a murder-suicide. One of the children called 911 and informed the authorities about the incident. Officers responding to the scene found the three boys, all under the age of 11, running toward them.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call the Merced County Sheriff’s Office at (209) 385-7445.

Crime scene police line | Representational Image
Crime scene police line | Representational Image GETTY IMAGES / SCOTT OLSON