STRASBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A southeastern Pennsylvania mother fatally shot her two young children and herself after setting several fires at their Strasburg Township home, investigators said.
Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni announced his findings after an autopsy Wednesday morning. He said 40-year-old Carola Arnau’s death is a suicide and the deaths of her children are homicides.
Arnau, along with her 10-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, was found in a bedroom early Tuesday after emergency responders were called to a fire on Village Road in Strasburg Township.
Diamantoni said the boy died from multiple gunshots to his body and his sister died from a head wound. He said the children were killed with the same gun the mother used on herself.
“It’s just a sad situation,” said Barbara Benner, who lives down the street from the home. “I mean, there had to be other ways to get around doing things than that.”
District Attorney Craig Stedman said Arnau bought the gun and ammunition on Monday. He said the gun was found by her body and soot from firing it was found on her hand.
The children were found in their beds and died in their sleep, investigators said.
Stedman said Arnau shot and killed the family dog and used an accelerant to set multiple fires in the house and a detached garage. Her husband, who was living in the garage during the couple’s pending divorce, was at work at the time of the fire and shootings.
Court records show Arnau had filed for a protective order against her husband on behalf of her son, but police found no evidence to support her claims. Investigators also said she had been going through mental health treatments.
“That’s something you won’t forget,” Benner said. “It’s horrible. You just can’t visualize anybody doing that.”
A makeshift memorial of a balloon, candles, and a teddy bear was set up outside the house.