Three young children were found dead in an apartment complex in West Sacramento, California on Wednesday evening, police said.
The father of the children, 33-year-old Robert Hodges, was arrested just a few hours later, according to local media outlets.
Around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12, police received a domestic violence call from a woman at West Sacramento’s Timbers Apartments, ABC 10 reported.
First responders tried to save the lives of the three children who were found inside the apartment before they were declared dead on the scene, the news station said. The mother of the children is considered a domestic violence victim, according to the police.
The victims have been identified as 7-month-old Lucas Hodges, 9-year-old Julie Hodges, and 11-year-old Kelvin Hodges.
KCRA 3 quoted West Sacramento police Sgt. Roger Kinney, who said the officers were affected by the horrific crime.
“The officers are absolutely impacted, along with the firefighters, and certainly the family, the neighbors—this call is going to have quite a bit of emotion. It’s horrific, and it’s very difficult to deal with,” he said. “This is going to take not hours, not days, it’s going to take a long time to come to grips with what happened there.”
When officers arrived at the scene, they found the mother of the children hysterical and begging them to go inside her apartment, reported The Sacramento Bee. The father was missing from the apartment, reportedly fleeing the scene.
The outlet spoke with neighbor Betty Scott who said she heard Hodges trying to choke his wife.
“He was choking her and she called the police for domestic violence,” she said. Scott said that afterward, she heard screaming from the apartment when the mother realized her children were dead. Before the incident, Scott didn’t notice anything abnormal.
“You couldn’t even tell [anything] was wrong,” she told the newspaper.
“Obviously, [the mother] is traumatized, and it’s going to take some time to find out what’s going on,” Sgt. Kinney was quoted as saying.
Theresa Bustamante who lives nearby, told the Californian television station that she wasn’t aware anything was wrong either. “I was in my apartment all the time. I was watching my movies and I didn’t hear nothing,” she said.
Around midnight on Wednesday, at Interstate 80 and West El Camino Avenue, a California Highway Patrol officer pulled over Hodges, according to reports. He is now in Yolo County Jail.
Two of the victims went to Southport Elementary School. Grief counselors will be made available to students in the school district, according to reports.
A memorial will be held at Southport Elementary School at 7 p.m. on Sept. 14, according to the West Sacramento Mayor, Christopher Cabaldon. “West Sacramento is not used to this type of tragedy,” he said in a statement. West Sacramento was named the Most Livable City in America under 100,000 people in 2014 by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.