4 P.M. WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Three adults died of gunshot wounds in a murder-suicide before 5:30 p.m. Christmas Eve in a house on Atlanta Avenue near Edgewood Drive, and four children under age 10 were safely removed, Lakeland Police report.

Leighton Josephs, 30, entered the house with a handgun and shot a 30-year-old man and 27-year-old woman there before apparently committing suicide, police said in a news release Wednesday afternoon. They were declared dead by emergency responders.

Police are not releasing the identities of the victims or the address of the house, citing Marsy’s Law, a recent Florida constitutional amendment intended to protect crime victims. Detectives said they believe the gunman knew both victims.

The Daily Mail of London reported that detectives said online records indicate that the gunman and the victims lived at the same address in the 3000 block of Atlanta Avenue. 

The four children found in the home were unharmed physically. They were removed from the home and officers began making arrangements for their care, police said.

“Our agency has received a number of inquiries from the community, requesting to make donations for the children,” a police spokeswoman said in a news release. “Detectives will be working with the families to establish a means for the community to assist the children in the coming days. That information will be distributed as soon as we have additional details.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Detective Laura Dunn at Laura.Dunn@lakelandgov.net or 863-834-6974.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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