A former soldier who police say fatally shot his wife and children and set their house on fire before killing himself suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following a military career that included a stint in Iraq, his family said Wednesday.
In a statement issued three days after the tragedy in an upscale neighborhood in suburban Louisville, Kentucky, Brad Hettinger's family said the Army Reserve veteran had been seeking help for complications associated with PTSD and was attending marriage counseling with his wife.
"We as a family are devastated and deeply shaken by the events that have transpired," the statement said. "Brad Hettinger was an honorable, respectable, family-centered man who believed strongly in his religious values, who served his country with valor and who provided a nurturing and caring environment for his family."
The family did not provide details about Hettinger's battle with PTSD. The statement was first reported by WAVE-TV in Louisville, which shared it with The Associated Press. The family did not return telephone calls from the AP on Wednesday.
Police said earlier this week that they were not aware of any history of domestic violence in the family.
The bodies of Hettinger, his wife and children were found as firefighters worked to extinguish several blazes that authorities say Hettinger had set inside the stately two-story brick home before killing himself Sunday.
Billie Jo Hettinger, 32, was found in the basement. The children, 5-year-old Collin Hettinger and 4-year-old Courtney Hettinger, were found dead in their beds on the second floor. Billie Joe Hettinger died of gunshot wounds to the chest and head, while each of the children died of a single gunshot wound to the head, the local coroner's office said. Collin Hettinger would have turned 6 on Thursday.
Brad Hettinger, 33, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the coroner's office said. His body was found in the first-floor living room near the front door.
Hettinger served in the U.S. Army Reserve between 2001 and 2013, according to Army records. He spent much of the time in an aviation regiment, and was deployed to Iraq for 10 months in 2011.
On Monday, a day after the killings, about 200 mourners gathered for an evening prayer vigil in an empty lot across the street from the home.
The Hettingers were parishioners of St. Michael Catholic Parish, and the children were pupils at the parish school. The Archdiocese of Louisville issued a statement this week expressing its sympathies and asking for prayers for the family.
This story has been edited to clarify how the family's statement was released to the news media.