KEY POINTS

  • Police said the man shot his two children, aged 10 and 13
  • He set the house on fire and then fatally shot himself
  • The two children were students of the Wattsburg Area School District

A man in Pennsylvania fatally shot his two children before setting the house on fire. He killed himself after that.

A relative went to Richard Zimmer's house Monday as he failed to show up for a custody hearing earlier in the day. The family member found heavy smoke coming from the residence. The Kuhl House Fire Department arrived at the scene and found three bodies in various rooms of the house.

"There was smoke seen at the residence, at that time the fire department was contacted. The fire department made entry into the residence for the fire purposes, but at that time is when they noticed the unfortunate situation that was there," Trooper Andrew Hacke said.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the 48-year-old man fatally shot his children, 10-year-old Zachery Zimmer and 13-year-old Madison Zimmer, with a shotgun, Your Erie reported. After killing the kids, Richard set the house on fire and then fatally shot himself.

The motive behind the double murder-suicide remains unknown.

Police said that the two children were students of the Wattsburg Area School District.

"The Wattsburg Area School District and community are deeply saddened by the passing of such wonderful young students and will work with their family to assist them through this difficult time," the Wattsburg Area School District said in a statement.

"It was a complete shock. Our kids play baseball together. We were playing baseball with him on Monday night. He was having fun. I was surprised. He Was a very nice boy, very sweet and very funny. We really miss him," said Shina Burton, a family friend, according to Pennsylvania News Today.

In May, a man and his 4-year-old son were found dead just hours after the boy's mother petitioned for an emergency order requesting law enforcement officials to pick up the child. The murder-suicide incident took place inside a condo in Florida's Las Olas. 

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours, every day.

crime scene Representational image Photo: Getty Images/Jonathan Alcorn