A 23-year-old pregnant nurse in Arkansas and her two-year-old son were shot dead by her husband before he turned the gun on himself in an apparent murder-suicide, according to police. Paiden Nicole Priest, her son, Grayson Alexander Beckham, and her husband, David Wayne Priest, 24, were found with gunshot wounds when police arrived at their house in Van Buren, near Fort Smith, Arkansas, on Sunday.
Initial investigations reveal that the woman and her son were shot after a verbal argument between the couple. David was the only one who was still alive when police arrived but later succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital, authorities said.
According to police, David, an electrician, opened fire inside the family's Van Buren apartment early Sunday during following an argument. Police were informed after a neighbor living in the other half of their duplex called 911 around 12:40 am, after he heard and saw bullets tearing through his wall.
One of the bullets even struck his headboard, right above where he and his wife had been sleeping. Officers responding to the call reached the address only to find Officers with the Van Buren Police Department arrived to find Paiden and her two-year-old son, Grayson dead of gunshot wounds. David, who is believed to have turned the gun on himself after shooting his wife and child, was still alive.
However, he later succumbed to his injuries at a hospital. "This is one of the worst cases we've ever had to deal with," Police Sgt. Jonathan Wear said in a televised press conference following the shooting. "But we do believe that this was done by David Priest," he added.
Love Turned Sour
Police is still not sure what led to the argument and the eventual shooting. Neighbors heard arguing coming from the couple's apartment shortly before the bloodbath, he added. David was Grayson's step-father, according to the the police report.
David and Paiden were engaged in June and married in August, according to their public Facebook profiles. On April 15, he changed his profile picture to an image of him kissing Paiden's pregnant belly with the caption "My gorgeous and all-around amazing wife no matter what."
Paden was in her third trimester and neighbors say they were a happy family. "A couple weeks back they were all playing outside," neighbor Sarah Beals recalled to the outlet, adding that the family had always been "nice" and "sweet."
Police were able to recover handgun from the scene, they said, and have obtained a search warrant to collect further evidence in an attempt to "piece together what happened," according to local news station 4029 News.
The bodies have also been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock for autopsies. Friends and family have since paid tribute to Paiden and Grayson, and her unborn son, Elijah, on Facebook.