TABERNACLE, N.J. (PIX11) -- Two children are dead, and their mother and brother are clinging to life as detectives investigate a shooting in their home that could be a murder-suicide.
It all happened in one room of the house at 39 Holly Park Drive, about a four-minute drive from a New Jersey State Police barracks.
"When they got there, they found a really horrific scene," said State Police Capt. Steven Jones. "We ended up having two children unfortunately shot and killed.
The Burlington County Medical Examiner identified the victims as 8-year-old Nadia Harriman and 14-year-old Nicholas Harriman.
The dead children's mother, Jeaninne LePage, 44, and brother, Alexander Harriman, 11, are in "extraordinarily critical" condition at Cooper Hospital in Camden, according to state police.
The commander of the officers who first responded to the scene underscored the emotional impact of the tragedy on his officers.
"Troopers are prepared for" a variety of emergency responses, said Lt. Greg Giannone. "But a crime scene like this is impossible to prepare for. Our troopers who were first on the scene are with... counselors at this time."
The situation had an even stronger effect on people who know the family, particularly on friends of the dead children.
"It's very sad that this happened," said Caleb Rodriguez, 12, who lives two doors away from the home where the shootings took place. "They would come over, we would ride scooters together... It's very sad that this happened, I don't know why it did."
Rodriguez's mother, Beth Salvatore, conveyed just how challenging it is to deal with this tragedy. "A very difficult day," she told PIX11 News. "[My children] just don't understand how [other] children could lose their lives."
She has three children, just like LePage, who lives just down the street from her, who, along with her children, met an awful fate on a South Jersey street that's so quiet that nobody reported hearing anything, including relatives who share the home with the victims. One of those relatives called 911.
Police said they will remain on the scene "for quite some time" as their investigation attempts to answer vexing questions.
"One of the answers I can't say is when did this happen," said Capt. Geoff Noble, the lead investigator on the case. "We believe this happened sometime last night up to today at 9:00, when the troopers first responded."
What is known is that classmates from at least two schools, as well as their parents, their entire community, and even seasoned police veterans are having a hard time making sense of what happened here.
"It's just unbelievable," said Salvatore, the neighbor.
The father of the children who were killed and injured does not live in the home.
Police said that they are not looking for any suspects outside of the home in this case.