Coroner: Mother fatally shot 2 young children, self

STRASBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Strasburg Township mother fatally shot her two young children and herself after setting several fires at their home, investigators said.

Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni announced his findings after an autopsy Wednesday morning. He said Carola Arnau’s death is a suicide and the deaths of her children are homicides.

Arnau, 40, her 10-year-old daughter, and her 4-year-old son were found in a bedroom early Tuesday after emergency responders were called to the fire in the 1400 block of Village Road, in Strasburg Township.

Diamantoni said the boy died from multiple gunshots to his body and his sister died from a head wound. He said the children were killed with the same gun the mother used on herself.

“It’s just a sad situation,” said Barbara Benner, who lives down the street from the home. “I mean, there had to be other ways to get around doing things than that.”

District Attorney Craig Stedman said Arnau bought the gun and ammunition on Monday. He said the gun was found by her body and soot from firing it was found on her hand.

The children were found in their beds and died in their sleep, investigators said.

A makeshift memorial of a balloon, candles, and a teddy bear has appeared outside the home.

Stedman said Arnau shot and killed the family dog and used an accelerant to set multiple fires in the home and a detached garage. Her husband, who was living in the garage during the couple’s pending divorce, was at work at the time of the fire and shootings.

Court records show Carola had filed for a protective order against her husband on behalf of her son, but police found no evidence to support her claims. Investigators also said Carola had been going through mental health treatments.

“That’s something you won’t forget,” Benner said. “It’s horrible. You just can’t visualize anybody doing that.”

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