A Connecticut man shot and killed his girlfriend's 16-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter, and then himself, on Tuesday night over a dispute about smoking in the house, police said.
Son Sterling Jette Jr. and daughter Della Jette were each shot in the chest, police said. They were transported to the hospital and pronounced dead shortly after, according to a press release from the Watertown Police Department provided to BuzzFeed News.
Watertown Police Chief John Gavallas said in a press conference Wednesday that police received a call around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday from a woman who "reported to us her live-in boyfriend was armed and had just shot her daughter and son."
When police arrived at the house, they discovered the shooter, 42-year-old Paul Ferguson, in the master bedroom, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Officers found the daughter lying on the back deck and the son between the kitchen and living room.
Gavallas said the mother, Danielle Jette, told police there was an argument between Ferguson, who smoked cigarettes in the house, and her daughter, who was upset about the indoor smoking.
Della went on a school field trip to New York earlier that day; when she returned home at night, she spoke to her mom about Ferguson's smoking habits. Their conversation grew loud, Gavallas said, and Ferguson, who was watching TV with Sterling in the basement, went upstairs and "told the daughter to quiet down and not talk to her mother that way."
The incident escalated, and Ferguson went to his bedroom and came back with a Glock handgun.
Sterling tried to intervene at that point, but Ferguson shot him in the leg. Jette went downstairs to call 911 when she heard a second gunshot, police said, presumably when Ferguson shot her daughter outside.
"He came back into the house and shot the son in the chest," Gavallas told reporters.
Ferguson was a convicted felon who was previously charged with sexual assault in a spousal relationship, Gavallas said, and was not eligible to have a weapon. Police found several weapons in a safe inside the house, but have not determined if they were purchased by Ferguson.
The couple had been in a relationship for about two years, and Ferguson moved into Jette's house two weeks ago, according to police. Gavallas said there's no indication that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
"It's traumatic for the whole community, everyone living in Watertown," Gavallas said. "They had many friends I'm sure, many classmates, and this is very hard to handle."
Jette has been cooperating with the authorities, Gavallas said, but was "extremely distraught."
Deputy Chief Joshua Bernegger told reporters that police had received a call from that house in 2016, when the woman's then-husband died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after a domestic incident. The Jette children were in middle school at the time, police said.
"There's a tragic history at that household," Bernegger said.