Nephew accused of killing aunt uncle and cousins in senseless mass murder

Brandon Taylor Cole-Skogstad, 29, wrote on Facebook he had made the ‘absolutely horrid choice’ to kill his family and himself

Saturday 23 April 2022 21:31 BST
Sean and Riana Barry, with their daughters Shiway and Sadie
Sean and Riana Barry, with their daughters Shiway and Sadie (GoFundme)

A Minnesota man shot dead his aunt and uncle and their two young daughters before turning the gun on himself in a shocking crime that has left the city of Duluth in mourning.

Brandon Taylor Cole-Skogstad, 29, wrote on Facebook shortly before the massacre that he made the “absolutely horrid choice” to kill his family after battling severe mental health issues for years.

Brandon Taylor Cole-Skogstad
Brandon Taylor Cole-Skogstad (Facebook)

Police in Duluth said Cole-Skogstad killed Sean and Riana Barry, and their daughters Shiway, 12, and 9-year-old Sadie as they slept on Tuesday night.

He then killed the pet dog, before shooting himself as police arrived at the family home at around 12.30pm Wednesday afternoon.

Duluth police chief Mike Tusken described the crime scene as the worst he’d seen in 30 years.

In a confession posted to Facebook shortly before the killings, Cole-Skogstad said he wished he had made better life choices and “ignored the hatred thrown at me by peers for so long”.

“I have made the absolutely horrid choice in not only taking my life, but the lives of my aunt, Riana Lou Barry, my uncle Sean Barry, and my two sweet, beyond angelic cousins Sadie Lucille Barry and Shiway Elizabeth Barry,” he wrote.

The post continued: “I cannot fathom how I came to this decision, but I do know this. If there is a God sitting in heaven, I wish so much that he grant my family the most peaceful heavenly afterlife possible,” he added.

“I love you all and please know I knew you all loved me. I tried my best to fight it. Good bye.”

Police went to the property after a family member alerted them that Cole-Skogstad had threatened to harm himself on Wednesday morning.

Officers arrived to hear a single gunshot, believed to be Cole-Skogstad shooting himself.

Duluth Police made a tactical retreat and requested backup including a SWAT team from the Superior Police Department and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

Just after 3:00pm, officers entered the home after using robots and drones to help with the searching the property.

Inside, they found five bodies including the suspect and a family dog.

Mr Tusken, the head of Duluth police, described the deaths as a “terribly traumatic event”.

“Incidents like these shake our sense of safety as a community and the region as a whole,” Mr Tusken said.

“Sometimes people forget that the officers and investigators responding to the scene have families too. This is devastating for them to respond to, to see, and to process afterwards.

“It’s heart-wrenching. You can’t unsee it.”

In a Twitter post Wednesday, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said: “Tonight we are a community in pain and shock, sharing a sorrow for the loss of our people.”

She added: “My heart, like yours, absolutely hurts for the pain of loved ones and the fear people likely experienced on their final day here with us.”

Friends of the family have set up a GoFundme page to help with funeral expenses.

“They were a truly special family who impacted the lives of so many of those around them,” the fundraising organisers wrote.

“They leave behind their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and many many friends.”

A candlelight vigil for the family is being held at the family home on East 12th St in Duluth on Sunday night. The public are welcome to attend.

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