Authorities in North Dakota identified four people Wednesday who were found shot to death in a wheat field this week.
Towner County Sheriff Andrew Hillier identified them in a statement as Douglas Dulmage, 56; Justin Bracken, 34; Richard Bracken, 64; and Robert Bracken, 59.
A gun found at the scene, nearly 200 miles northeast of Bismarck, was a .357 revolver, Hillier said.
Hillier did not identify a possible motive or provide additional information about the incident. In a statement Tuesday, he said evidence at the scene suggested the incident was a murder-suicide.
NBC affiliate KVLY of Fargo reported that Dulmage was killed while he was combining wheat and had hired the three men to work on his farm. The bodies were discovered around 6 p.m. Monday, when a relative of one of the farmhands when to check on him, Forum News Service of Fargo-Moorhead reported.
A longtime friend of Dulmage’s, Pat Traynor, described his killing to KVLY as a “devastating loss.”
“He was a pillar of the community,” Traynor told the station. “Everybody loved Doug Dulmage.”
Dulmage lived with his wife and daughter in Leeds, roughly 14 miles away, and farmed wheat, corn and soybeans with his 95-year-old father at the property where he was killed, Traynor told the Associated Press.
Citing family members, KVLY reported that a dispute prompted one of the men to kill his brother, his son and Dulmage before he died by suicide. Public records identify Justin Bracken as Robert Bracken’s son.
Reached by phone, a woman who identified herself only as Robert Bracken’s ex-wife said her ex-husband “didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”
“We need time to process this,” she said, adding that she would await a police account of the incident before commenting further.
There was no immediate reply to a message left at a phone number listed as that of a relative of Richard Bracken’s.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.