When police pulled up to the manicured Houston subdivision Friday evening, after a flood of 911 calls directing them there, they found two young women lying in the street, their bodies bleeding from bullet wounds.
Nearby stood their mother, 42-year-old Christy Sheats. In her hand, she held a gun.
Authorities demanded that she drop her weapon, according to the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, but she refused. An officer with the Fulshear Police Department opened fire and shot the mother dead.
Sheats’s husband and the girls’ father, Jason Sheats, watched the carnage unfold from afar. Friday was his birthday, neighbors told ABC affiliate KTRK-TV. The couple had recently reunited after a marital separation, they said. The father was uninjured, police told reporters, but he was so distraught that he was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
“He’s going through a very difficult time,” Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls told the Houston Chronicle.
It’s unclear why the girls were shot, but Nehls told the Chronicle that the shooting broke out after a family argument.
“We’re still trying to put the pieces together,” Nehls said.
Calls to 911 started ringing at 5:01 p.m. The shots began inside the home and spilled into the street, witnesses told KTRK-TV. By the end of the night, Sheats and both her daughters were dead.
Neighbors say Taylor Sheats, 22, & Madison Sheats, 17, were killed by their mom on their father's birthday. pic.twitter.com/UOi7DrdHDU
— Lauren Lea (@LaurenLABC13) June 25, 2016
Taylor Sheats, 22, graduated with honors from Lone Star College, according to her Facebook page, and was an avid, talented artist. Her posts include photos of her drawings and articles about politics and social issues. She worked as a babysitter and caregiver.
Like her big sister, 17-year-old Madison Sheats, worked as a babysitter, according to social media. The teen was going to be a senior at Seven Lakes High School this fall, KTRK-TV reported.
One of the daughters died at the scene; the other died at a hospital.
Friends and neighbors told reporters at the crime scene that they were shocked by the shooting. The Sheats family seemed to be loving and close, and Christy was vocal about being a proud mom.
“This is not the Christy that I know. It’s just not,” Catherine Knowles, a friend, told KTRK. “I thought it was the wrong person. It had to be.”
Records obtained by the Chronicle show that authorities had visited the family home multiple times, but the sheriff would not disclose why. A representative with his office told People magazine that the calls were for “previous altercations” involving the mother’s “mental crisis.”
“I couldn’t imagine anything in her life that could’ve made her snap,” Knowles told the TV station. “Your own children, I don’t know what could possibly go through someone’s head.”
Taylor and Madison Sheats had their mother’s bleach-blond hair, and the three were close, according to messages and photos they posted on social media.
On Facebook last year, Christy Sheats posted a photograph of the girls on “Daughter’s Day.”
“Happy Daughter’s Day to my two amazing, sweet, kind, beautiful, intelligent girls,” Sheats wrote. “I love and treasure you both more than you could ever possibly know.”
In 2014, she posted a different photo, in which the girls were hugging, alongside a bible verse, James 1:17: “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” she wrote, quoting the verse. She added: “Today I am thankful for my two perfect gifts! They are very best friends — they make me so very proud to be their mother.”
Christy Sheats wrote often online about her faith, and on several occasions she posted about her support of the Second Amendment and her right to bear arms.
“I have 10 guns. Obama wants 8 of my guns. How many guns do I have?” said one meme, over a photo of bullets and a gun. “That’s right, I have 10 guns.”
She captioned the photo: “That’s right! #merica.”
Alick Arnold, who grew up down the street from the Sheats family, told KTRK-TV that Jason Sheats loved his daughters.
“They were like best friends for sure,” he said.
The sheriff told the Chronicle that authorities are still investigating whether Christy Sheats was pointing her gun at police or at one of her fallen daughters when she was shot.
“As everyone is certainly aware, we had a terrible incident last night that involved the deaths of 3 people. An unimaginable tragedy that it seems we see too often,” Nehls wrote on Facebook the morning after the slayings. “Keep the family in your prayers.”
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