It was the crime that shattered a family and an entire community - and now one question is being asked: how could a mother kill her own two daughters?
Christy Sheats, 42, shot and murdered her two daughters Madison, 17, and Taylor Sheats, 22, during a family gathering to celebrate the 45th birthday of her husband, Jason. After an apparent altercation, the two girls attempted to flee the house, before their gun-advocate mother ended their lives.
Watching on in horror, Jason was heard by neighbours to beg, ‘Don’t do this. They’re our kids.’ But his words were in vain, and when police arrived Christy too lost her life in a hail of bullets, after apparently refusing to drop her weapon. ‘The cops were behind the trees and behind the cars, and they told the mom to put the gun down and obviously she did not,’ said one neighbour, who witnessed the tragedy.
'It would be too premature to give you a motive as to why something like this took place,' Sheriff Troy Nehls told local Texas station KTRK. 'The best we can to pray for the father and husband so he can work through this.'
Added a neighbour: 'Those parents are good. They are hard-working. Very good family. I do not know how this happened. So I cannot believe that.'
However it is believed she had been struggling for some time with what one Sheriff's office source described a "mental crisis" - with police called before to a number of disturbances.
It is unknown if Sheats was undergoing any treatment at the time of the tragedy, but she had recently posted several social media messages ranting about guns and her right to own them.
'It would be horribly tragic if my ability to protect myself or my family were to be taken away, but that's exactly what Democrats are determined to do by banning semi-automatic handguns,' she raged on Facebook in March.