What was at first an attempted murder-suicide involving a young boy and his mom became even more tragic for a Missouri family after the child passed away from a gunshot wound fewer than two days later.
Barnhart, Missouri, police responded to a call in the early hours of Sunday, shortly after midnight, and arrived at the home to find 49-year-old Tara Kelleher and her 11-year-old son Sammy Schweitzer suffering from gunshot wounds. According to investigators, Kelleher had entered her son’s room early that morning and shot him in the head with her fiancé’s firearm as he slept inside the house. The mom then turned the gun on herself, and her fiancé awoke to notify police.
“Us dealing with this just as human beings right now, it’s difficult,” said Detective Sergeant Brian Taylor of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. “I know, with myself included, several of the law enforcement, fire, EMTs that were all on [the] scene, they have family members that were the exact same age, and for them that’s difficult.”
The mother and child were quickly transported to a nearby hospital, where Kelleher was shortly pronounced dead. Schweitzer, however, clung to life in critical condition for nearly two days. Shortly after 5 a.m. on Monday morning, he sadly passed away from his injuries. Kelleher had no prior criminal history or records of drug or alcohol abuse, and police are searching for answers.
“I think a lot of times with stuff there are warning signs. There’s things that people see that maybe are odd or unusual. And then, unfortunately, after the fact, then it’s a red flag, which then at that point it’s a little bit too late,” Taylor said. “We’d like to know why. Were there some warning signs that maybe people didn’t see from this tragic event, or can we maybe educate people from this? But right now we don’t have those answers, and it’s frustrating.”
An investigation into the incident is still ongoing. Authorities have indicated that Kelleher didn’t leave behind a note, so they are searching her social media accounts and phone for clues as her family copes with the tragedy. In the meantime, Schweitzer’s school district has offered counseling for students in a statement:
While this student was new to our district, the recent events that have taken place are tragic and will deeply impact our school community. The district is working with various local support organizations to provide resources to our staff and students who are personally affected. Above all, our heartfelt thoughts and condolences go out to the student’s family and loved ones.