MATOACA, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man shot his wife and their two young children to death on Father’s Day and then killed himself, police said.
Chesterfield County police said in a news release Monday that the night before, Barry C. Jernigan, 35, killed his 30-year-old wife, Renotta; his 9-year-old stepdaughter, Alexis F. Kellas; and 2-year-old son, Seth.
Officers went to check on the family at their home just after 10 p.m. Sunday when they heard gunshots and saw bystanders trying to help the mother and the boy outside, police said.
Barry Jernigan and his stepdaughter were found inside the small, white, ranch-style home with a plastic play set on the front porch and trampoline in the backyard. They and the mother died at the scene. The boy was pronounced dead at a hospital.
On Monday morning, neighbors tried to cope with the tragedy while standing near the house with two cars in the driveway that was surrounded by yellow police tape.
“It saddens me to think, Father’s Day, of all days; (you) go home and shoot your kids, really?” said next-door neighbor Cindy Nguyen, 29, whose husband and brother-in-law tried to help revive Renotta Jernigan. She had stumbled out of the front door Sunday before collapsing on the lawn. A nurse that lives down the street helped perform CPR on the baby, whose crib, neighbors said, was covered in blood.
Nguyen said that she didn’t know the family too well but that the father worked nights, “seemed fine,” and typically made small talk with neighbors since the Jernigans moved into the home about two years ago. Barry Jernigan even wished her husband, 30-year-old Harry, a happy Father’s Day as he walked along the street Sunday afternoon. The Jernigans recently installed a fence after complaining about items being stolen from their backyard, she said.
Nguyen called the youngest of the victims a “sweet baby boy” and said her son played with the 9-year-old, who was known by her nickname, Lexi.
Police continued their investigation Monday, with investigators carrying paper bags out of the home. Officers on the scene declined to comment.