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HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — Tragedy unfolded in a secluded High Point neighborhood over the weekend, leaving five people dead.

While it was initially reported that three children and two adults were killed in what they believe was a murder-suicide on Saturday morning at a home on Mossy Meadow Drive in High Point, later the police clarified that one of the young victims was 18, therefore an adult.

“I was in complete shock because I’m like, ‘What, in my neighborhood?’ you know? it’s really quite like you don’t really think that would happen, and to hear that happening in my neighborhood is really crazy,” a neighbor said.

Neighbors said that they woke up Saturday morning to two people banging on their doors and ringing their doorbells, asking for help, saying that someone was trying to kill them.

“The man said that it was his father. He woke up, and there was a gun to his head. Somehow he pulled the magazine out of the gun, and they escaped.”

Guilford County Schools released the following statement on Monday:

It is with deep regret that we inform you about the recent loss to our school community of an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old student who attended Ragsdale High School, as well as a 10-year-old student who attended Union Hill Elementary School. We are heartbroken and our thoughts are with the family. District crisis teams will be at both schools throughout the week, and the district stands by to assist the family in whatever ways they need.

Guilford County Schools

Timeline of events

Police say they were initially called just after 7 a.m., and when they arrived on scene they were directed to the home where they found three adults and two children dead from gunshot wounds. Captain Matt Truitt with the High Point Police Department said they’re working around the clock to piece together all of the information.

Two surviving victims escaped and asked the neighbors for help. They were only identified as a family member and an acquaintance, both of them adults, aged 22 and 25.

Police say around the same time that these two were seeking help, Robert J. Crayton, Jr., 45, shot and killed his wife, Athalia A. Crayton, their 18-year-old son Kasim Crayton and two younger children, ages 16 and 10, who will not be identified.

“We may never know why,” said Lieutenant Patrick Welch. “What goes through the hearts and minds of a person that would do this sometimes dies with them.”

Prior calls

According to records, High Point police received calls to the home as far back as 2014. Police said that two of these were domestic calls with fights that did not lead to any arrests. In January 2022, they received a medical call and then a request for an involuntary commitment.

Police confirmed that Robert Crayton suffered from some type of mental illness, but they were not going to disseminate that information out of respect for the family and the investigation.

A flowchart provided by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services describes the process of an involuntary commitment order.

They are working to trace the firearm found at the scene and cannot say if it was obtained legally or not.

‘Never seen anything like this’

“I have been in law enforcement a little over 18 years now, and I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude in the City of High Point,” Truitt said.

Chief Travis Stroud echoed that sentiment at a Monday afternoon press conference.

“In my 27, pushing on 28, years at this police department I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said.

Welch says that they have released some information to Guilford County Schools in order to put needed resources in place for students, and the school district confirmed that Kasin was a Ragsdale student.

Details about the scene will not be released. Officers have resources in place if they need assistance following this case, and Welch said that the officers are doing “well.” Welch also said that the surviving victims have a large extended family supporting them.

Family mass killing

Family mass killings are not uncommon across the United States. A database from the Associated Press and Northeastern University indicates that around every three and a half weeks for the last two decades, there’s been a family mass killing.

Last May, Davie County was rocked by a murder-suicide that claimed the lives of an infant, a toddler and their mother. Just last week, five children were among eight killed in a murder-suicide in Utah after a man’s wife tried to divorce him.

Experts with Northeastern University say family mass killings make up 45% of 415 mass shootings since 2006.