CENTRAL, Washington County — Three people were shot to death Thursday in an apparent double murder-suicide in this small southern Utah town.
Investigators have not said who they believe fired the deadly shots, but the man who was killed was a gun enthusiast and former U.S. Marine.
Just before noon, the bodies of 24-year-old Landon Jorgensen, a 25-year-old woman and a young elementary school-age girl were discovered in a Central home. The Washington County Sheriff's Office released few details about the shootings, but said the victims were "living together in a domestic relationship."
"This is the first time we've had a juvenile involved in a homicide such as this, so it's a hard thing to deal with," said Washington County Sheriff's Lt. Robert Tersigni. He did not say, however, how old the girl was nor release any names.
Jay Winward, a family friend, identified Jorgensen as one of those who died and said the family expresses "deep sorrow" for the incident.
"The family feels extreme shock and remorse," Winward said.
Tersigni said the sheriff's office was alerted about the deaths by a relative. The shootings apparently occurred sometime Thursday morning.
"I heard a gunshot first thing this morning," neighbor Ted Johnston said.
Jorgensen occasionally joined the Southern Utah Pistol & Revolver group and knew board member Ken Nelson, who said Thursday that he was very surprised to hear about the shootings.
"I'm shocked and everybody else who knows him is shocked," Nelson said. "Whatever happened came out of the blue."
Nelson said life seemed to be going well for Jorgensen, who told him he was enjoying his relationship with a woman and her daughter. He said Jorgensen was about two-thirds of the way through training to become a paramedic.
Neighbor Mark Sergent said he regularly heard "screaming and yelling" coming from the house late at night and during the day. The mother and daughter, he said, moved in about a year ago.
"They were both really sweet," Sergent said. "They loved to go fishing and hiking. They were outdoorsy."
On his blog called "Guns, Freedom and Politics: One young man's perspective," Jorgensen — who was the former president of the Red Cliff rifle group — said he aspired to own a gun shop and shooting range one day.
"My passion is to teach people the correct way to use firearms so that they can be both safe and fun," he wrote on his profile.2 comments on this story
Jorgensen taught a tactical pistol class as late as June, a post on the Southern Utah Pistol & Revolver website states. He also offered to teach a class for people to receive their Utah concealed firearms permit.
A profile of Jorgensen on a flyer for a tactical handgun course indicated that he served in the Marines as a "close quarters battle team operator specializing in hostage rescue tactics." He also served as "platoon designated marksman" and claimed to have "a vast knowledge of SWAT and infantry tactics."
Contributing: Andrew Wittenberg, Pat Reavy