Afghan vet, wife, mother and daughter killed in apparent murder-suicide

An Afghanistan war veteran and his wife, mother and young daughter have been found shot to death in a home in rural Nova Scotia.

At a news conference today, the RCMP said it appeared a 33-year-old man shot himself, and that three females also died of apparent gunshot wounds.

The bodies were found in a home in Upper Big Tracadie.

A National Defence source identifies the husband as retired corporal Lionel Desmond, who served with the Second Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment in C-F-B Gagetown, New Brunswick.

Family members say he suffered from PTSD.

The other victims were his wife, 31-year-old Shanna Desmond, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and his mother, 52-year-old Brenda Desmond.

Police say two guns were found at the scene.

They would not confirm outright that the deaths were a murder-suicide, saying the investigation is continuing.

The military source says Desmond did one tour in Afghanistan in 2007 and was released in July of 2015.

The source says Desmond had received treatment from the joint personnel support unit (JPSU) at Gagetown for a year prior to release.

The JPSU is the unit that provides support to ill and injured soldiers, including mental injuries such as PTSD.

Catherine Hartling, a neighbour and Shanna's aunt, says Lionel Desmond trained as a sniper and was diagnosed with PTSD after returning home from Afghanistan.

Another relative, Reverend Elaine Walcott, says Desmond had recently tried to check himself into a mental health unit at St. Martha's Regional Hospital in nearby Antigonish and was told there were no beds.

Walcott says Lionel loved his mother and his family and was a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder and the memories he didn't want to have.

She says “He was troubled.”

The provincial medical examiner's office would not comment on the possibility of an inquest into the deaths.