Family breaks silence on WA shooting
THE family involved in the WA shooting in which seven of their relatives were killed say they are "still trying to understand how this could happen"
In a statement released on Saturday afternoon, the family asked the public not to speculate on what might have happened.
"We are devastated by this shocking event," the statement read.
"We are stunned and still trying to understand how this could happen.
"We respectfully ask that the community refrain from speculating on the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident.
"We thank the community for their support and ask that our privacy is respected as we grieve."
Earlier, Police confirmed three guns found at the Margaret River property where an entire family was found dead belonged to the property owner, Peter Miles.
WA Police commissioner Chris Dawson confirmed the identities of the deceased in what is being described as Australia's worst mass shooting in more than two decades.
The three guns were all found at the property where Cynda, 58, and Peter Miles, 61, were believed to have died early yesterday at their farm in Osmington, near Margaret River in Western Australia.
Their daughter Katrina, 35, and her four autistic children - Taye, 13, Rylan, 11, Arye, 10, and Kadyn Cockman, 8 - were found dead in a shed on the site, that had been converted into living quarters on the farm, which was named Forever Dreaming.
Police discovered the bodies when called to the property just after 5am. on Friday, local time.
Commissioner Dawson today said a forensic investigation at the property was continuing.
"I will confirm that all seven deceased suffered gunshot wounds," he said.
"This is a complex criminal investigation. We're treating this as a matter in which clearly six persons are the subject of a homicide.
"A seventh person is deceased. It is far too premature to come to any conclusive statement about that."
Speaking to media today, Commissioner Dawson would not confirm reports that Mr Miles - the husband, father and grandfather of those killed - had called police around 5.15am.
Within hours of the tragedy, police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the shootings. Commissioner Dawson said the incident was one of the worst the force would ever have to deal with.
"The loss of any life is tragic, but four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy," he said. "This devastating incident will no doubt have a lasting impact on the families concerned, the whole community, and in particular the communities in the southwest. These tragedies take their toll on everybody."
WA Premier Mark McGowan described the multiple homicide as "appalling, awful and terrible".
"This is a very distressing day for Western Australia," he said.
"My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims, and also with the first responders and investigators as they piece together this tragic set of circumstances."
Margaret River shire president Pamela Townshend said the family was well known locally and well liked. "This incident has shocked our community to the core," she said.
"As a small and close-knit community, many people are likely to know or be connected in some way to the deceased.
"What happened today will have a huge ripple effect across our community. Coming together at this difficult time is extremely important," she said.
Cynda, 58, and Peter Miles, 61, were well known in the Margaret River area - she for her extensive community involvement and he for his longstanding and successful farm maintenance business.
Katrina and her four children had been or were students at Margaret River Primary School. They had also been home schooled.
The four children were believed to have had autism.
Their father, Aaron Cockman, was a local carpenter and builder. It is understood he and Katrina had been involved an acrimonious split, which had led her and the children to move in with her parents on their 12ha property.
It is not suggested Mr Cockman had any involvement in the shooting.
The Miles's farm, which they bought in January 2015, boasted two residences and was sold at the time as a "piece of paradise" in a popular holiday destination.
But it will now become the scene of an intense forensic investigation, with police estimating that they could be there for five days.
Before yesterday, the most recent mass shooting in Australia involved the deaths of five people - Kim Hunt, 41, her children Fletcher, 10, Mia, 8, and Phoebe, 6, and Geoff Hunt, Kim's husband and the children's father. That incident on an NSW farm in late 2014 was ruled a murder-suicide.
Prior to that, it was the infamous 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania in which 35 people died.
Jan Walsh lives nearby and although she did not know the slain family she is saddened by the deaths.
"Because we're a close-knit community, we'd all be there if we're needed," she said.
"You do respect people's privacy, that's why we live here, unless there's a fire or someone's hurt."
Ms Walsh and her husband have lived in Osmington for 25 years, having moved from the Wheatbelt region, and they ran a bed and breakfast for years.
"There's retired people who live down here, there's ex-farmers," she said.
"It's just a wonderful place to live and everyone's so friendly.
"You wave to everyone coming down Osmington Road and you don't even know them. "It's a very caring town."
Ms Miles' friends are shocked and upset by the deaths.
She is described by friends as a devoted mother who "worked tirelessly to provide them with everything they needed".
Homicide detectives from the major crime squad are in Margaret River from Perth to assist as forensic specialists continue to comb the scene for clues.
Commissioner Dawson acknowledged the impact the tragedy would have on the small regional town, well known as a surfing hotspot and a tourist destination for its wine industry.
"We well understand that these tragedies have a lasting impact," he said.
"We'll do as much as we can from a police investigation point of view but, importantly, communities rally together in such tragedies and I'm confident that the community will rally together but we're also very well aware that there's a lot of support services which we will be providing through various Government services."
Commissioner Dawson added that a police chaplain is involved to provide support for those involved.
He also said that police have no information to raise concern about a wider public safety issue surrounding the incident, which he described as a "devastating tragedy".
"This devastating tragedy will no doubt have a lasting impact on the families concerned, the whole community and, in particular, the local communities in our south-west," he said.
Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino said the incident was incredibly saddening.
"The loss of life is always tragic, especially when young children are involved," Ms Marino told News Corp.
"My thoughts are with the family and friends."
Osmington is a tiny rural area about 20km outside Margaret River and three hours south of Perth.
About 7600 people live in Margaret River itself while ABS data shows Osmington has about 135 residents.
Forever Dreaming was supposed to be the Miles family's "piece of paradise".
That was how the farm was billed when Cynda and Peter Miles snapped it up in 2015.
The pair planned for the tranquil property, about 20km from Margaret River, to be their "forever farm".
But it turned to a scene of terrible tragedy yesterday as the site of Australia's worst mass shooting in more than 20 years.
A Facebook page dedicated to Forever Dreaming - last updated in January - said it would be a base for growing food and Peter's maintenance and repair business.
It would also be a playground for their grandchildren.
Four of the Miles' grandchildren were killed in the shooting.
"It is here that we will grow as much of our food as we can, sit on the veranda and watch the birds, and watch the grandchildren immerse themselves in the animals and everything else that happens on a daily basis," the Forever Dreaming Facebook page said.
"When we have too much we will share it if we can - it is in the giving that community is built!"
For help with emotional difficulties, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au