The lengthy note from Farhan Towhid, a 19-year-old Texan, went up on Instagram over the weekend, beginning with an alarming claim: “Hey everyone. I killed myself and my family.”
When a family friend saw the 11-page letter, they quickly called police to request a wellness check, warning that Towhid was suicidal.
On early Monday, police forced their way into the red brick house in Allen, Tex. Inside, they found six people dead: Farhan Towhid; his brother, Tanvir Towhid, 21; his father, Towhidul Islam, 54; his mother, Iren Islam, 56; his grandmother Altafun Nessa, 77; and his 19-year-old twin sister, Farbin Towhid.
They had all been shot to death, police told The Washington Post, by Farhan and Tanvir Towhid as part of a suicide pact the pair had planned out for over a month.
“It looks like the two … sons entered into an agreement that they were going to [die by] suicide and that they were going to take their family members with them,” Allen Police Department Sgt. Jon Felty told KRLD.
Police have not confirmed when the deaths took place but said it is likely the brothers killed their family members on Saturday night.
The mass killing of the family, which moved to the United States from Bangladesh about 15 years ago, left friends and neighbors in shock.
“We just can’t believe it happened to this family,” family friend Sied Chowdhury, 60, told The Post. “They are a very loving family. We didn’t see anything wrong with the family, any problems.”
The Towhid family first settled in New York before moving to Allen, a northern suburb of Dallas, Chowdhury said. Towhidul, the father, worked in information technology while his wife, Iren, took care of the house and their children. A neighbor told the Dallas Morning News that Altafun, the grandmother, was visiting from Bangladesh and was scheduled to return home last week, but her flight got postponed because of the pandemic.
Farbin, Farhan’s twin sister, had recently accepted a full scholarship to attend New York University, KDFW reported.
According to Farhan’s note on Instagram, he and his brother Tanvir had struggled with mental illness for years.
Farhan wrote that he had suffered from depression since the ninth grade and had repeatedly harmed himself. His family had tried to help him, but he said that his mental health issues had recently worsened. He had been studying computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, he wrote, but claimed he was evicted from his dorm in the winter after discussing his mental illness with a roommate.
A university spokesperson told The Post that Farhan, who had been a sophomore in the College of Natural Sciences, “voluntarily withdrew from school in January 2021 and canceled his housing contract, checking out of his residence hall on January 31.”
“The University of Texas Police Department has no police reports filed on Farhan and there were no concerns reported to our behavior concerns advice line,” Eliska S. Padilla, the university spokesperson, said in an email.
Farhan moved home, where Tanvir, whom he described as “depressed and socially anxious,” was staying.
Eventually, the pair decided to kill their family and then themselves, he wrote. “Instead of having to deal with the aftermath of my suicide, I could just do them a favor and take them with me,” the note reads.
The pair bought guns, he wrote, adding that “gun control in the U.S. is a joke” because the pair lied when asked if they were suffering from mental illness. Police did not confirm how many guns were used in the shooting, adding that Tanvir was able to legally purchase a gun “recently,” KXAS reported.
It is unclear when exactly Farhan allegedly posted the note to Instagram, but police said officers arrived at the home around 1 a.m. on Monday.
“We have never had an incident like this in the 21 years that I’ve been here,” Felty told KXAS. “It’s just a tragedy. There’s no other way to describe it.”
Felty said none of the neighbors reported hearing gunshots and police received no reports of gunfire in the area. The family had never reported any issues to the police, he added.
Chowdhury said the Bangladeshi community in the area is still grappling with the news. The loss of the family, which was active in the Bangladesh Association of North Texas, leaves a void in the tightknit community.
The association’s general secretary, Nahida Ali, called the news “horrific” and “shocking” in a Facebook post on Monday. The University of Texas at Austin also mourned the death of Farhan.
“The news of this story is devastating, and we express our deepest sympathies to the extended family and friends of Farhan Towhid,” the university said in a statement shared with The Post. “The university takes mental health concerns very seriously and has a comprehensive approach to provide supportive services.”
Some members of the Bangladeshi community arrived at the scene early on Monday morning and did not leave until the family’s bodies were removed from the home around 6 p.m., Chowdhury said.
“I’ve never seen a crime like this,” Chowdhury said. “This is hard to swallow. They had a lot of friends in the neighborhood. It’s pretty heartbreaking for the community.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.