Horror in Texas: Father shoots four kids, wife, kills self

BAY CITY, Texas (AP) A man who shot four young children and their mother at their southeastern Texas home before killing himself was the woman's husband and children's father, whom she had recently accused of assault, police said Thursday.

Jose Avila, 24, apparently shot each of his children, ages 2 to 5, in the head during Wednesday's attack and shot his wife at least three times, twice inside the family's Bay City mobile home and at least once in the yard just as a nearby school was letting out, police Lt. Andrew Lewis said.

Two of the children, 3- and 5-year-old brothers, died of their wounds at a Houston hospital. The two other children, ages 2 and 4, were on life support Thursday, authorities said. Avila's wife was also remained in the hospital, though police did not know her condition.

Police did not release the victims' names.

Lewis said police got a report on Nov. 22 from Avila's wife that he had assaulted her, but she refused to press charges. He said she went to a shelter, but that he didn't know how many days she was there or when she returned to the family's mobile home.

Police said Avila and his wife were arguing Wednesday and that there was a confrontation in the trailer just before the shooting began.

Police said at least one student was a witness. Neighbors said Avila's body was lying outside when police arrived. One of the children was found in a vehicle.

"We heard ... that he was walking around waving a gun," Lewis said.

Neighbors said the family moved into the home in Bay City, which is 65 miles southwest of Houston, about 18 months ago. The attack came as a shock to many residents in the normally quiet community.

"To my knowledge, there's never been anything like this," said police Chief Roger Barker, who added that there's been an outpouring of support for the family. "Most communities never experience anything like this and hopefully we won't have to ever again."

Mayor Mark Bricker said, "Most of the community is still in shock. They don't know how to interpret what happened."

Counselors were made available at the nearby school to talk to students.

There was a makeshift memorial Thursday in the driveway of the beige mobile home, which was blocked off with police tape. The memorial includes red, white and brown teddy bears, and at least two dozen candles. There were balloons on the mail box, and items with religious quotations.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.