Christmas Eve Murder-Suicide in Florida Home With 4 Young Children Inside Leaves 3 Adults Dead, Police Name Attacker

A man entered a house on Christmas Eve brandishing a handgun which he used to kill a 30-year-old woman, a 27-year-old man and then himself, while four children under the age of 10 were in the residence, according to police in Florida.

The children were all safely removed from the house after the apparent murder-suicide, which took place at around 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday, Lakeland Police Department Captain Ed Cain said.

Police have named Leighton Josephs, 30, as the attacker but would not release the names of the victims and the children, The Ledger reported.

WFLA reported that the dead were Racheal Ramsey and Christopher Pine. The Polk County Medical Examiners confirmed to the network that it will carry out autopsies on Ramsey and Pine, as well as Josephs.

The relationship between the victims and the attacker is still being investigated and police say that there is no further risk to the community.

"We do not have a whole lot of information regarding the identity of the individuals involved in this incident, obviously that is information that we are still trying to develop," Cain said.

"It's a very tragic situation on Christmas Eve that's going to impact a lot of families.

"It's safe to say the holidays oftentimes put stressors on families and individuals and how they respond to those situations is, obviously, difficult and taking into account the lives it impacts is tremendous," he added, according to The Ledger.

Newsweek has contacted Lakeland Police Department for comment.

Cain said that the children were taken to the police department where they will be safe and police will look at ways for people to donate money to help support them.

Neighbor Mary LeRoy told ABC News: "The children were taken out of the windows to get taken to safety and I mean that's got to be a horrible thing for a child.

"I think it's going to live in their minds forever. I mean, how can something like that happen and it not stay with you… Any time those children think about Christmas, they are going to think about tonight.

"I felt so bad because the thing is, for the rest of their lives, this is what Christmas will mean to them," she added.

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours every day.

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(File photo) A close-up photo of police lights by night. Police in Lakeland, Florida, have released the name of a man who went into a house, shot dead a man and a woman and then turned the gun on himself. iStock