Coast Guardsman kills wife, child in murder-suicide; 1 child left in critical condition

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A U.S. Coast Guard service member shot and killed his wife and 7-year-old son and critically injured his 8-year-old daughter before taking his own life in Southwest Miami-Dade, police said.

Miami-Dade Police and Fire Rescue units responded to the scene of the shooting along Southwest 242nd Lane and 114th Court, early Sunday morning.

“It’s really sad … that bodies are being put in body bags,” said an area resident.

“Very surprising to hear this bad news,” said area resident Esteban Aguila.

Police said 44-year-old John Presnar got into a heated argument with his wife Gretchen, 39, and at some point, it escalated into a shooting.

“I heard ‘pow pow pow pow pow,'” said an area resident.

Investigators said Presnar opened fire just after midnight, and it was then that his wife told her mother to run for help.

“We heard a couple shots and a lady screaming, “Help, help help,” knocking on neighbors’ doors,” said Aguila.

Responding officers discovered Gretchen and the couple’s 7-year-old son deceased inside the home. Presnar was also found deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

MDFR crews airlifted the family’s 8-year-old daughter to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in critical condition, where she continues to fight for her life, Monday afternoon.

Presnar’s mother-in-law, who ran for help, was the only person who was not shot during the incident.

Neighbors were left in disbelief.

​”They seemed like a really nice family. They were always outside with their kids; the kids would play outside,” said Aguila.

USCG officials rushed to the scene of the shooting. They confirmed Presnar was an active duty member, serving as an electronics technician since 2001. He worked at the Coast Guard base in Miami Beach.

A spokesperson for the USCG released a statement that read in part, “The Coast Guard is deeply saddened by this tragedy and our hearts go out to the family members of those who were killed. We continue to pray for and offer the full support of the Coast Guard to the young child fighting for her life.”

Police have not released the children’s names.

As the investigation into this tragedy continues, neighbors said they never saw this coming.

“The dad was really nice. The mom, the grandma, they were all a very, very nice family,” said Aguila, “so it’s very surprising to hear something like this happened.”

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