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Apparent custody battle sparked murder-suicide that left 4 dead in Queens

Details emerge in Queens murder-suicide

NEW YORK -- Police are investigating a shooting at a home in the Queens borough of New York City that left four people dead, including a young child, CBS New York reports. The NYPD was called to an apartment in the Astoria neighborhood just before 9 p.m. Monday.

Police said a man, two women and a 6-year-old child were found dead inside, in a scene that was described as gruesome. Police also said two guns were recovered at the scene, along with seven additional fully loaded magazines. The incident is believed to be linked to a custody dispute.

"Upon entering that location, they observed, in quick time, four individuals that were apparently the victims of gunshot wounds," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea.

A man sitting on the stoop outside the home Tuesday says among them was his son, James Shields, and his young grandson who he called Jimmy.

Police say Shields shot his son, the boy's mother and his current wife before killing himself at his apartment, CBS New York reports.

The child and his mother were visiting from the Netherlands and police believe Shields was upset that they were leaving to go back, according to CBS New York.

"For a child to be hurt this way, this is a little sad, you don't expect this," said neighbor Ellie Alvarado. "It's heartbreaking because I'm a mom of my own."

"It's shocking for here, I mean it's always been such a quiet neighborhood," another neighbor named Sharon said. "This is crazy."

Police held a press conference Tuesday and revealed that a GoFundMe page shed light on turmoil in the family that likely led to the rampage.

"We have a twist of the case in that this custody battle, if you look at the GoFundMe page, there's some self reported statements that his life was spiraling out of control," Shea said. "[Shield] makes reference to financial obligations."

The NYPD says it's early in the investigation so details are limited, including whether officers had been called to the address before.

"We don't want to leave any stone unturned," said Shea. "There are calls that we believe are going to be related to that building, but it's a little preliminary."

The investigation is ongoing.

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