The children were identified as sisters Sakendra Syann Steele, 9; Sakenya Syretha Steele, 12, and their brother, Sakenlo Shawn Steele Jr., 14.
Mother kills three children, then herself in murder-suicide in Winston-Salem
- Wes Young
- Apr 11, 2023 Updated 3 hrs ago
A mother shot her three children inside a home on the south side of Winston-Salem while on a Facetime call on Tuesday, Winston-Salem police believe.
The mother then apparently shot herself, police said.
The person at the other end of the call witnessed the shootings.
Winston-Salem police officers embrace a man who is overcome with emotion near the scene of a shooting on Brookhill Drive on Tuesday.
Allison Lee Isley, Journal
The dead were: sisters Sakendra Syann Steele, 9; Sakenya Syretha Steele, 12; their brother, Sakenlo Shawn Steele Jr., 14; and the children’s mother, Ethal Syretha Steele, who was 40 years old.
The bodies of the four were found at 3140 Brookhill Drive, where police arrived to find the house locked after receiving a report of a shooting at 11:54 a.m. on Tuesday.
The house is on a cul-de-sac at the south end of Brookhill Drive, in a normally quiet residential neighborhood called Ashton Grove that’s on an extension of Pope Road leading west from Ebert Road.
Winston-Salem police forced entry into the locked home and found the bodies of the three children and their mother. More than a dozen law enforcement vehicles arrived and officers used yellow police tape to seal off the street. An ambulance responded, but drove slowly and quietly out of the neighborhood around 12:30 p.m.
The mother shot the youngest girl first, police believe. Then the older girl jumped up and screamed before she was shot twice. The boy was the last of the children to be shot.
Police have not said where the family’s bodies were found.
A quiet neighborhoodShocked bystanders watched from the other side of Pope Road most of the afternoon. Around 1:15 p.m., a man get out of a car and walk toward the cul-de-sac. When the man reached the yard of a neighboring house, he collapsed to the ground, apparently overcome by grief. Police officers came over to help him, and stayed with him several minutes until he was able to get up again. The man then walked with police officers toward the house where the shootings occurred.
Later, the same man could be heard shouting in his grief near Pope Road, as those around him tried to comfort him.
As a big mobile crime scene bus and a smaller forensics police truck showed up on Brookhill, it was clear to bystanders watching that something very serious had happened. Shortly before 3 p.m., police told reporters that four people were dead but had no other information to release.
Police did not at that time confirm that the incident was a murder-suicide, but they did say that no suspects were being sought and that there was no safety threat to the neighborhood.
Police released the names of all four of the dead at 4:41 p.m.
A woman who lives in the neighborhood described how her own children occasionally played with the three Steele children in the front yard of the home where the shooting took place. The neighbor described the family as “reclusive,” and said that she had not spoken with them much.
Another woman who lives just a few doors down from the site of the shooting said she had not heard anything out of the ordinary Tuesday morning, and found the arrival of all the police cars alarming.
“This is a quiet neighborhood – very quiet,” the woman said.
A man who said he was godfather to one of the children said the Steele family had just gotten back from a vacation to Florida.
Talking about gun violence
Chris Scott, a [black] pastor who lives in sight of 3140 Brookhill, was on a teleconference call with others talking about gun violence on Tuesday, and when the call ended he walked outside and ended up talking to family members and offering them his help.