Three adults and four children were found dead in Western Australia early Friday in what authorities were calling the country’s worst mass slaying in more than two decades.
The bodies of two of the adults were found outside a building on the property, in Osmington, near Margaret River, while the other five bodies were found inside, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Two firearms were found at the scene, and at least some of the bodies had gunshot wounds, authorities said. But it wasn’t clear whether all of the victims had been fatally shot.
“The loss of any life is tragic, but the loss of four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy,” Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said at a news conference.
“The loss of any life is tragic, but the loss of four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy.”
Police did not immediately identify the dead, saying they were still trying to locate next of kin, but authorities believe all seven people who were slain were residents of the property, the newspaper reported.
A phone call led police to the scene at about 5:15 a.m., authorities said.
Dawson would not speculate on a motive, but said police had no immediate concerns about public safety beyond the property.
That suggested a possible murder-suicide case, but Dawson would not confirm that, the West Australian of Perth reported.
However, Australia’s ABC television network reported that police sources said the case was being treated as a murder-suicide.
In 1996, a lone gunman killed 35 people and injured 23 in Tasmania state, prompting Australia to adopt tough gun control laws.
Since then, gun-related deaths have become extremely rare in Australia, mass shooting expert Glynn Greensmith of Edith Cowan University told Australia’s ABC.
Five people were slain in Lockhart, New South Wales, in September 2014, the network reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.