(NEW YORK) — A small community in rural North Dakota is searching for answers after a farmer was found dead in his wheat field along with three other men in what authorities described as a murder-suicide.
The Towner County Sheriff’s Office said its deputies were dispatched to a wheat field south of Cando on Monday, after receiving a report of four unresponsive individuals. All four men had died from apparent gunshot wounds and a .357-caliber revolver was found near one of the bodies, according to the sheriff’s office.
“Evidence from the scene indicates that this incident was a murder-suicide and there is no known threat to the public,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office released the identities of the deceased: Douglas Dulmage, 56, of Leeds, North Dakota; Justin Bracken, 34, of Leeds, North Dakota; Richard Bracken, 64, of Leeds, North Dakota; and Robert Bracken, 59, of Cando, North Dakota.
Dulmage owned the property and lived with his wife and two daughters in nearby Leeds, a town of about 500 people. The other three men, who authorities believe are related, worked for Dulmage and were helping him harvest the wheat, according to Fargo ABC affiliate WDAY-TV.
Dulmage’s body was found in his combine harvester, according to his close friend, Pat Traynor.
“He was a pillar of the community; it’s a total devastating loss,” Traynor told WDAY. “He epitomized what it was like to be in the country, in terms of friendliness, kindness, empathy, people helping each other.”
Dulmage was also a volunteer firefighter in his hometown and a longtime member of the North Dakota Farm Bureau. He currently served as the president of the Benson County Farm Bureau.
“It is hard to understand why something like this would happen in a rural farming community,” Daryl Lies, president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau, said in a statement Wednesday. “When evil presents itself, it can be devastating but we must remember there is more good than evil in our world. Doug’s dedication to agriculture and love for his family will forever be remembered.”
The community is planning on helping the Dulmage family with harvesting the rest of the crop.
“If we could all be a bit more like Doug, the world would be a much better place,” Traynor told WDAY.
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