A former member of the military went to his ex-wife’s South Carolina home and killed three children and a man before he killed himself Tuesday night, police said.
Charles Slacks Jr. used a key he still had from their previous relationship to enter the woman’s home in Sumter around 10 p.m. Tuesday, Sumter Police Chief Russell F. Roark III said.
He fatally shot the woman’s co-worker in a backyard before he charged upstairs to where the three children were sleeping, with their mother following, Roark said.
“Unfortunately, her cellphone was upstairs where the children were,” Roark said.
Slacks pointed the gun at his ex-wife, and she went to the backyard to get a cellphone from the man who had been shot to call 911, Roark said.
She did not find a phone, and several shots rang out, Roark said.
Slacks had killed three children — two boys and a girl. He then shot himself at the top of the stairs, police said.
The children were identified as Aayden Holliday-Slacks, 5; Aason Holliday-Slacks, 6; and Ava Holliday, 11, Sumter County Coroner Robbie Baker said. Slacks was the father of the two boys and was Ava’s stepfather before he and his ex-wife divorced.
Slacks was the father of the two youngest children, Roark said.
“When you have a situation where little children were sleeping in the comfort of their own bed, and in no fault of their own had their life taken — particularly by a father and a stepfather,” Roark said. “That’s difficult for us to rationalize.”
Sumter is a city of around 43,000 adjacent to Shaw Air Force Base, which also houses U.S. Army Central.
Slacks is a former military member and the man he shot, is a 38-year-old military member, Roark said.
Representatives from the U.S. Army did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Associated Press reported Slacks had been a civilian assigned to U.S. Army Central at Shaw Air Force Base, and the man he killed was also assigned there.
The man who was killed was not identified by authorities pending notification of next of kin, officials said. He and the suspect’s ex-wife did not have a relationship besides being co-workers, Roark said.
Sumter has strong ties to the military due to its proximity to Shaw Air Force Base, which goes back to 1941. U.S. Army Central moved from Georgia to the base in 2011.
“This could happen in any community, unfortunately,” Roark said.
The Associated Press contributed.
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