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The parents found dead with their children in an apparent murder-suicide on Monday made a series of cryptic communications with local deputies mere hours before the tragedy.

“You guys have people working here today?” Aschod Ewing-Meeks, 26–the suspected killer–said in surveillance footage from the Davie County Sheriff’s Office lobby in North Carolina, according to authorities in a WGHP report.

That was at about 12:11 p.m. on Monday. Girlfriend Ashton Brown, 26, stood by holding 8-month-old Brixx Meeks-Ewing. Four-year-old daughter Bella Meeks-Ewing placed something on a chair, standing roughly between her parents.

About two hours later, at about 2:17 p.m., firefighters said they found the family shot to death at their home after a passerby reported seeing smoke from the residence. Deputies said first responders found Ewing-Meeks dead with a gun in hand.

Authorities say they believe he fatally shot Ashton, Brixx and Bella, then set fire to the home before killing himself.

“It’s definitely been an impact on the community, on the neighborhood,” Davie County Sheriff JD Hartman said in a press conference Wednesday, according to WCBD. “It’s not an area where we have a lot of calls or issues. The neighbors said they were good neighbors.”

Hartmann reportedly said the family was vague about why they wanted to speak to a deputy during that Monday visit. Ewing-Meeks during the visit reportedly did ask about getting a concealed carry permit.

Brown called authorities minutes later on Monday at 12:35 p.m., asking to speak to a deputy in what WFMY described as a non-emergency call.

A deputy called her back at 12:46. According to officials, Brown said she was calling for her boyfriend. She gave the phone to him, but the call only lasted 30 seconds. It was unclear if this was from a hang up or dropped call. The deputy called back. This second call lasted 55 seconds. The deputy made a third and fourth call, lasting two minutes and more than six minutes respectively. Meeks allegedly said he thought someone was following him. He was the only person to speak to the deputy after the initial call, Hartman said.

The deputy called at 1:06 p.m. and 1:07 p.m., but both went to voicemail. Authorities could not contact the couple again after that, they said.

At about 2 pm, a witness claimed to see Ewing-Meeks and Brown argue in front of the couple’s home, but they went inside, authorities said. Minutes later, another witness claimed to see smoke from the home.

First responders said they found the mother and her infant son in the kitchen, with the daughter in a bedroom doorway. Ewing-Meeks, gun in hand, was at the end of the hallway leading to the kitchen, authorities said.

Locals teamed up to help Brown’s family, with fundraising efforts including t-shirt sales, and a barbeque.

“As a community, we all put ourselves in that situation,” said Nikole Lewis, who said she did not know Brown but organized a fundraiser at the Cooleemee Fire Department on Saturday, according to WGHP. “What if that was us? What if that was our family or one of our loved ones?”

[Screenshot via WGHP]

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