GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Three schoolchildren and a parent were found dead in a home in northeastern North Dakota on Thursday, school officials and police said, though details on how they died were not immediately released.
Authorities went to the house in Grand Forks on Thursday morning after administrators at Lewis and Clark Elementary School asked police to check on the family. The responding officer saw what appeared to be a body inside the home on the city's south side and went in.
Authorities have not said how the four died and police are withholding their names until relatives have been notified. Police Lt. Derik Zimmel said more details would be released later Thursday or Friday.
Grand Forks Public Schools said in a statement that the four who died were a parent and three students. The district said families have been notified and it is working with the schools involved to provide support and counseling to students and staff. It also said Grand Forks police asked that no additional information be released.
Police said there was no indication of an ongoing threat to the public, but that they couldn't say for certain.
Paula Stevens, 58, who lives two doors down from the house where the four were found, said a woman and three children had moved into the house just a couple months ago.
"Three little kids and their mom — oh my goodness," she said, though it was not immediately clear that the mother was the parent found inside the home.
Stevens said the house "sat empty forever" until it was recently renovated and the woman was living there as a renter. Stevens said she rarely saw the family because the woman worked odd hours and the long winter kept the kids indoors.
"This is scary," Stevens said. "Now I want to watch out for my neighbors and make sure they're OK."
Stevens and others described the neighborhood as a safe, quiet residential area. The house where the family was found was surrounded by crime tape on Thursday. The garage door was more than halfway opened, and a pink child's bicycle was overturned in the yard.
"It's a little frightening because Grand Forks is supposed to be like a safe town, a place where you can keep your doors unlocked," said Caralyne Ronai, a senior at the University of North Dakota who was walking through the neighborhood. "Four dead is upsetting to hear."
This story has been corrected to show that district officials have described three of the dead as students, but not necessarily as students at the elementary school, and to show that the University of North Dakota student's last name is Ronai instead of Ronay.