NAVARRO COUNTY — A Navarro County mother shot her husband and three children before turning the gun on herself inside their home just outside of Rice, said Navarro County Sheriff Department officials Tuesday morning.
"I've been in law enforcement for approximately 25 years and I cannot recall during my career an incident where the mother was the shooter of her own children," said Sheriff Elmer Tanner.
The bodies of 33-year-old Guadalupe Ronquillo-Ovalle and her husband 33-year-old Israel Alvarez were found with their three sons—ages 4, 8 and 10—inside their home Sunday night.
"Late yesterday afternoon, we received word from the medical examiner's office that the preliminary autopsy revealed all three children, along with Mr. Israel Alvarez, died as a result of homicidal violence, being gunshot wounds," Tanner said. "Guadalupe Ronquillo-Ovalle died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound."
Each victim suffered gunshot wounds to the torso and Ronquillo-Ovalle suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Tanner said based on findings from the medical examiner, the murder-suicide likely took place sometime between late Thursday afternoon into early Friday morning.
A note was not found at the scene, but authorities said a .22 caliber semi-automatic long rifle was taken from the home and is the suspected weapon used in the murder-suicide. The sheriff said authorities are still working to determine a motive and are talking with neighbors and friends of the family.
"I refer to this as a tragedy," he said. "And it's a tragedy for the community—for those families, neighbors—and we need to keep them in our prayers and thoughts everyday."
In a news conference Monday, Tanner said the children were last seen Thursday at Rice Elementary School.
Alvarez was arrested in connection to a family violence incident on Sept. 11. According to authorities, Ronquillo-Ovalle called 911 and alleged her husband pushed her. Alvarez was arrested and pleaded guilty to a Class C misdemeanor.
"We can only assume that there were problems in the household that led to that case of family violence and there may have been other incidents that were taking place," Tanner said.
Alvarez paid a $367 fine and was released two days later. Manuel Alvarez, the boys' grandfather, discovered their bodies on Sunday night. He defended his son, whom he said was not a monster.
WFAA's Marie Saavedra contributed to this report