NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Two children, ages 3 and 5, and their mother have been found dead in an apparent murder-suicide in eastern New Orleans.
New Orleans police officers made the discovery around 8:30 a.m. on Old Gentilly Road near Grant Street. The bodies of the mother and two children were found in an SUV, all with gunshot wounds.
An Endangered/Missing Child Advisory had been issued by police early Thursday morning. Officers say the two children were reported missing overnight.
Cylie Nicole McCullum, 3, and Caden Nicole McCullum, 5, were reported as missing or endangered. Police say both were believed to be with their biological mother, Michelle McCullum, 25. Michelle allegedly contacted her mother and advised her that she felt suicidal and may also harm the children, according to police.
"The victim had been having some problems and made that known to other members of the family, and at some point last night stated that she had been feeling homicidal and suicidal," New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison said. "She stated that she was armed with a firearm and had intended to take the lives of her children and her own life."
New Orleans police made the gruesome discovery several hours after issuing the advisory for the children. Officers say the mother was found dead, slumped over inside of the vehicle. Witnesses said they saw the children in the back seat of the car.
Harrison and Mayor Mitch Landrieu arrived on the scene less than an hour after the discovery was made. Other people arrived on the scene, wiping away tears from their eyes.
"These are difficult days," Landrieu said. "It's not only a tragic scene for the family members, but also the first responders. It just reminds you everyday how precious life is."
Harrison said he is making grief counselors available to all the officers who responded to the difficult scene.
He also said his department will likely look at the protocols for their Amber Alerts and they work with state police.
The NOPD issued an Amber Alert early Thursday morning, but it did not meet the protocols of an Amber Alert for state police who issued an Endangered Level 2 Alert for the missing children. Harrison said that they will look to see if there is someway they could make that process a little bit easier and if that could have possibly shortened the time frame of when this information got out.