NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A custody battle is believed to be at the center of a triple murder-suicide in Queens, where police say a father shot and killed his son, his ex-wife, and current wife before turning the gun on himself Monday night.
The NYPD was called to an apartment at 30th Drive and 23rd Street in Astoria just before 9 p.m., describing it as gruesome.
Police said the man, two women and a six-year-old child were found dead inside. They also said two handguns and another seven fully loaded magazines were recovered at the scene.
“Upon entering that location, they observed, in quick time, four individuals that were apparently the victims of gunshot wounds,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea.
A man solemnly sitting on the stoop outside the home Tuesday says among them was his son, James Shields, and his young grandson who he called Jimmy. The child and his mother were visiting Astoria from the Netherlands and police believe Shields was upset that they were leaving to go back.
“For a child to be hurt this way, this is a little sad, you don’t expect this,” said neighbor Ellie Alvarado. “It’s heartbreaking because I’m a mom of my own.”
A GoFundMe page , removed from the website on Tuesday, detailed an international custody battle playing out between Shields and his ex-wife, Linda Olthof, who lived in the Netherlands with the six-year-old.
“This custody battle, if you look at the GoFundMe page, there’s some self-reported statements that his life was spiraling out of control,” Shea said of Shields on Tuesday. “He makes reference to financial obligations.”
The NYPD says it’s early in the investigation so details are limited, including if officers have been called to the address before.
“We don’t want to leave any stone unturned,” said Shea. “There are calls that we believe are going to be related to that building, but it’s a little preliminary.”
Janet Christoforous used to live above Shields and still has friends in the building. She says she called police once, concerned she heard violence in the unit.
“He was always very cordial, but there was always something about hearing what went down downstairs, I knew not to get close,” said Christoforous.
Police had not yet revealed the name of Shield’s new wife, because they’ve been unable to notify next of kin.
The investigation is ongoing.