A Texas woman who reportedly shot her two daughters to death may have had a history of mental illness that could explain her violent behavior.
Christy Sheats, 42, of Fort Bend County, Texas, allegedly shot and killed her two daughters, 17-year-old Madison and 22-year-old Taylor, following a domestic dispute on June 24. Sheats was then shot to death by a law enforcement officer called to the scene.
The woman, an outspoken gun advocate who often posted in support of gun ownership on Facebook, is believed to have a history of severe mental illness, People reported. Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Caitilin Espinosa told the magazine that deputies from the department had visited the woman's home on numerous occasions in the past to intervene in domestic altercations reportedly brought on by Sheats' "mental crisis."
Sheats' daughters reportedly fled outside after their mother began firing her gun inside their home near the city of Fulshear, Texas. Sheats then followed the girls outside and shot them again. Madison was shot once outside the home, while Taylor was shot once inside and twice again outside.
A police officer responding to the scene shot and killed Sheats "before she was able to shoot [Madison] again," Espinosa said, according to People.
One of the young women died at the scene, while the other was airlifted in critical condition to Texas Medical Center in Houston, the Houston Chronicle reported. She was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Although the motive for the shooting, which occurred around 5 p.m., seemed unclear at the time, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls said he now believes the incident was a "family argument turned into a shooting," according to the Houston Chronicle.
" ... We're still trying to put the pieces together," Nehls added.
A neighbor told KTRK that Sheats had recently reunited with Jason Sheats, her husband and the father of her daughters, after a separation, according to People. The shooting reportedly occurred on Jason's birthday.
The man was home at the time of the shooting but did not suffer any injuries. He was taken to a local hospital to be examined. Nehls said the grieving father is "going through a very difficult time," the Houston Chronicle reported.
Madison was a rising senior at Seven Lakes High School, while Taylor attended Lone Star College.
Close friends of the two girls expressed their shock and despair at the news of their deaths.
"[Taylor] was just such a sweet girl," her friend, Matthew Wiley, told KTRK. "She had tons of friends. … I just can't believe it happened."
"Madison brought nothing but happiness to everyone she ever met," the young woman's friend, who wished to remain anonymous, said. "She was nice to everyone and she wouldn't have harmed a fly."