UPDATE: Army officials identified the soldier as Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Evans, 38, Thursday afternoon.
An Army civilian employee killed a U.S. Army Central soldier and three children at his ex-wife’s home in Sumter, S.C., late Tuesday evening, according to Army and law enforcement officials.
The assailant, Charles Slacks Jr., who previously served in the Army, died by suicide immediately after the killings, said Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark in a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
The children’s mother, Sgt. Maj. Aletha Holliday, survived the attack unharmed, Roark said.
Authorities described the shooting as “domestic-related,” though they cautioned the investigation is in its early stages. Slacks and Holliday were divorced on March 3, the Post and Courier newspaper in Columbia reported. Slacks, who the newspaper reported co-owned the home with Holliday, used a key to enter.
According to Roark, the four people killed in addition to Slacks include:
A male U.S. Army Central soldier, 38, whose identity Army Times is withholding pending next-of-kin notification.
Aayden Holliday-Slacks, 5.
Aason Holliday-Slacks, 6.
Ava Holliday, 11.
A U.S. Army Central spokesperson confirmed Slacks started a civilian job as a budget analyst for the command at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., in February. The assailant worked eight nonconsecutive years as an Army civilian prior to his most recent role.
Slacks, a former staff sergeant, served in the Army from 1999 to 2007 as a tracked vehicle mechanic, Col. Armando Hernandez said in an emailed statement. He deployed twice to Iraq, where he was wounded and received a Purple Heart.
How police say the shooting unfolded
After using his key to enter the home, Slacks walked into the backyard, where Holliday was conversing with a fellow soldier, Roark said. Holliday and the deceased soldier did not have a romantic relationship, the police chief said.
Slacks “fired several shots” at the male soldier, mortally wounding him. The male soldier later died at a local hospital.
The assailant then reentered the home and went upstairs, where his two children and Holliday’s daughter from another relationship were sleeping. The woman followed Slacks and tried to stop him, but she retreated to search for a phone to call authorities after he pointed a gun at her, according to Roark.
While Holliday was outside searching for the dying male soldier’s cell phone, Slacks shot and killed the children in their bedrooms.
After the sergeant major rushed back into the home, Roark said, she saw the assailant die by suicide at the top of the stairs.
Holliday checked on the children before retrieving her cellphone from an upstairs bedroom where it had been charging, Roark added. She called authorities while walking to her neighbor’s home in search of immediate help.
But it was too late — the children were dead, and the male soldier died at a local hospital.
The local police chief said the investigation will continue in hopes of determining a motive.
“It touches all when you have a situation where little children are sleeping in the comfort of their own bed … and they all have their life taken, particularly, by a father and a stepfather,” Roark said. “That’s difficult for us to rationalize.”
Veterans or service members experiencing a mental health emergency can contact the Veteran Crisis Line at 988 or at 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1 for a VA staffer. Veterans, troops or their family members can also text 838255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net for assistance.
This story contains reporting from the Associated Press.