A West Sacramento man was arrested in the deaths of his three children who were discovered Wednesday evening inside an apartment that he shared with his wife.
At 9:22 p.m., police received a call that there was a domestic violence incident in progress, officials said.
“Moments later, another call came in that there were possibly three children deceased,” said Sgt. Roger Kinney from the West Sacramento police department during a press conference. “It’s horrific and very difficult to deal with.”
At 11:59 p.m. California Highway Patrol officers detained 33-year-old Robert Hodges. He was arrested on three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. He will be arraigned on Monday.
Officials identified the children as Kelvin, 11; Julie, 9; and 7-month-old Lucas. Their manner of death has not been released.
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“The mother is holding up the best she can considering her three children were murdered,” Kinney tells PEOPLE. “She has a lot of family support.”
The woman’s neighbor told local television KCRA that she was sitting outside when the unidentified mother, who had just arrived from work, came running out of her home.
“She came running out of the door, and she’s screaming, ‘Help me, help me,’” said the neighbor, who asked to only be identified as Latoya.
Hodges’ wife and Latoya went upstairs to check on the children upstairs and found them dead.
“It’s difficult to close my eyes and sleep because all I can see are the children,” Latoya said.
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The community has been shaken by the news. About 2,000 people showed up for a candlelight vigil at the children’s elementary school on Thursday, officials said.
Sgt. Kinney says many of the first responders were rattled at the scene and counselors have been provided.
“Something like this is very disturbing,” Kinney said. “The officers are absolutely impacted, along with the firefighters, and certainly the family, the neighbors — this call is going to have quite a bit of emotion. It’s horrific, and it’s very difficult to deal with. This is going to take not hours, not days. It’s going to take a long time to come to grips with what happened there.”