TABERNACLE, New Jersey (PIX11) - Investigators say a southern New Jersey mom shot 3 of her children, killing 2 of them, before trying to kill herself Thursday morning.
Nadia Harriman, 8, and her brother, Nicholas Harriman, 14, were found dead in a room of their home at 39 Holly Park Drive.
Found in the same room with a gunshot to the head was the children's mother Jeaninne LePage, 44, according to New Jersey State Police investigators. Her son, Alexander Harriman, 11, was also found with a gunshot wound.
Both Alexander and his mother were described by police as being in "extremely critical" condition when they were taken to a hospital. They are now listed in critical condition at a trauma center in Camden, N.J.
The family's home is 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.
There were also two other people shot. One is an adult female, and the other is a boy."
The commander of the troopers 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 on a South Jersey street that's so quiet that nobody reported hearing anything, including five relatives who share the home with the shooting 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 three 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.AlertMe