Police say preliminary evidence shows the father shot his 10-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl while they were sleeping before he set the house on fire and shot himself.

ERIE, Pa. (AP/KDKA) — Authorities say a father killed his two young children then set fire to their Erie County home, where he was also found dead.

State police said the bodies of Richard Zimmer, 48, and the 10-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl were found after the blaze was reported Tuesday afternoon in the Greene Township home in Erie County. Police said concerned relatives went to the home after Zimmer failed to show up for a custody hearing and arrived to find heavy smoke.

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Volunteers with several local volunteer fire companies responded and had the blaze under control within an hour.

Police said the bodies were found in various rooms. They said the preliminary evidence indicates that Zimmer killed the children, whose names weren’t released, with a shotgun he owned. Police said that after they were dead, he “started multiple fires within the residence” and shot himself.

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WICU TV reported that investigators believe the young victims were killed Monday night, and the children were sleeping at the time.

Lt. Mark Weindorf, crime section supervisor for state police Troop E in Lawrence Park Township, told the Erie Times-News that the children were Zimmer’s biological children. Erie County Chief Deputy Coroner Nick Rekitt said the deceased were pronounced dead at the scene and no autopsies were planned.

Investigators said the fire didn’t cause significant damage to the residence, which is across the street from the Eriez Speedway.

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