A murder inquiry has been launched after a husband and wife suffered fatal injuries at their home in a Somerset village while their young children were in the house.
Neighbours said there had previously been rows in the street over parking, and though Avon and Somerset police declined to discuss a possible motive, the force referred itself to the watchdog because of previous contact it had had with those involved.
Two men aged 34 and 67 have been arrested on suspicion of murder and are in custody for questioning. The names of the couple who died have not been released by the police, but neighbours said the man worked as a teacher.
Police said at the time of the incident the couple’s two children were in the house on Dragon Rise in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton, a modern development close to the village centre. They were not harmed and are believed to be being looked after by a relative.
Police said it believed it had been an isolated incident, but increased patrols were taking place to reassure the public.
Officers and paramedics were called to the development at about 9.45pm on Sunday where a man and a woman, both in their 30s, were found inside with serious injuries. Despite the efforts of officers and medics, they were pronounced dead at the scene.
A cordon remains in place at two properties on the street while police carry out a forensic examination. The formal identification process and postmortem examinations to determine the causes of death will take place.
Neighbours described the area as quiet, and one person described the victims as “very friendly”. Another neighbour said he had not realised anything was wrong even when the air ambulance arrived, and had believed it had just been activity at the nearby military base.
A third said: “We heard some screaming and then within a short space of time there were loads of police and ambulance people here.”
Residents left flasks of tea and coffee for the police working at the scene, where a forensic tent had been erected.
A police spokesperson said: “Due to prior police contact with those involved, a voluntary referral will be made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. It would be inappropriate to go into further detail until the referral has been considered.”
DI Neil Meade, of the force’s major crime investigation team, said: “The thoughts of everyone in the force this morning are with the families of the two people who sadly died last night.
“Two young children were inside the property at the time of the incident and while thankfully they weren’t hurt, they are understandably distressed at what has happened. They are being looked after and specially trained officers have been deployed to support the victim’s families in what is undoubtedly the most difficult of times.”
He added: “We will carry out a full and thorough investigation and we will do all we can to achieve justice for the victim’s families. While this appears to be an isolated incident, there will be increased police activity in the area to provide the community with reassurance.
“Incidents like this are very rare, but when they do happen, we know they cause significant concern, so we’d urge anyone with worries or questions to speak to an officer or contact their local neighbourhood policing team.”
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