Six members of a military family, including four young children, were found dead in their car in the family’s garage in San Antonio, apparently after suffering from intentional carbon monoxide poisoning, the police said on Thursday.
William McManus, chief of the San Antonio Police Department, did not identify the family members, but he said they were a husband and wife in their mid-to-late 30s and four children, ranging in age from 11 months to 4 years. Two cats were found dead in a basket in the front seat, he said.
Chief McManus said there was “evidence that it was not an accident.” He said he did not have information about a motive, though he said it appeared to be a suicide.
He said he had been taken aback by the grim scene. “It’s the whole picture — it’s the adults, the children the pets, everything,” he said. “There’s no words to describe that.”
The family had just moved to the area — the Stone Oak neighborhood in northern San Antonio — in January, and neighbors had reported that they “never saw” them, the chief said. The police had responded to one previous call there, after getting a complaint about children playing ball in the street.
The police had received a call around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday from the husband’s employer, after he had failed to check in for work from home as usual. The police entered the house through the front door, where the smell of fumes “blew everybody back out the door,” Chief McManus said.
At a news conference earlier on Thursday, Chief McManus had said that the police found a “cryptic” note on the front door, with what appeared to be “military jargon.” He said it meant, roughly speaking, “There were bodies or people inside, and do not enter.”
Fearing that the home might be rigged with explosives, the police sent a robot inside, Chief McManus said. They also called for emergency medical services.
Eventually, the police entered the garage, where they found the bodies in a small SUV. He described the family as a military one, but declined to say which branch of the service they were affiliated with.
He said the deaths had probably taken place overnight, because the father had checked in for work on Wednesday.
“This is just the very beginning of the investigation,” he said.
The San Antonio Fire Department had sent out an evacuation notice to residents in the area.
Pictures obtained by reporter Emily Olson showed broken windows in the garage door, as well as throughout the house. Car seats were sitting on the front lawn. The photos may show the extent to which officers tried to get into the home.