Police identify victims, suspect in Stanwood quadruple homicide

Mecosta County Sheriff: Father/husband suspected in shooting death of wife, three kids

Throughout 2019, Big Rapids Department of Public Safety officers responded to a wide variety of strange and interesting calls. (Courtesy photo/Getty Images)

Throughout 2019, Big Rapids Department of Public Safety officers responded to a wide variety of strange and interesting calls. (Courtesy photo/Getty Images)

AUSTIN TOWNSHIP — Police have identified the victims of a quadruple homicide Friday afternoon in Austin Township.

According to a news release from the Mecosta County Sheriff's Office, Dawn Gillard, 40, and her three children — Katelynn Gillard, 6, Ronald Gillard, 4, and Joshua Gillard, 3 — died of gunshot wounds Friday after the children's father and Dawn's husband, a 51-year-old male, allegedly shot them before turning the firearm on himself.

Mecosta County Sheriff's deputies responded about 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 27, to the family's residence near 180th and Johnson Road, Stanwood, in Austin Township for a report of a male with a gun and shots fired.

In addition to the four victims, they found the husband and father at the scene with a gunshot wound to the head. He was transported to Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital, later transferred to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, before being transferred to University of Michigan Hospital, where he continues to be in critical condition for his injuries.

Police are withholding the man's name until he is arrested and formally charged. The case is currently under investigation, and a report will be forwarded to the Prosecutor's Office for review.

At this time, police have no information gathered to indicate what led to the shooting, the news release stated. Anyone who may have information important to the investigation is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Mike Mohr at 231-592-0150.  

'We all grieve in our own way'

Morley Stanwood Schools Superintendent Roger Cole confirmed that one of the children killed attended Morley Stanwood Elementary School.

"The loss of life is always difficult," Cole said in a letter to the Morley Stanwood community. "But when that loss is tragic, and yes senseless, it is that much harder to deal with."

"There are a lot of emotions to deal with and to process as a result of the terrible loss," he continued. "We want to give our Mohawk family and greater community a time and place to mourn, to weep, to pray and to begin healing."

In addition to a vigil, which was set for Monday evening at Morley Stanwood's football field, Cole said counselors and trauma specialists would be at the schools Tuesday to work with students and staff. He also encouraged reaching out to to the following agencies:

  • Community Mental Health for Central Michigan: 231-796-5825
  • WISE, Women Information Services: 231-796-6600
  • Department of Health and Human Services: 231-796-4300

"We all grieve in our own way," he said in the letter. "News and situations like this stir a great many feelings and emotions in all of us, myself included. We all handle them differently, not better or worse, just differently.

"Please do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help if your children, or you, need someone to talk to. Do not hesitate to call someone if you find your child(ren) or family struggling with this horrible loss that has gripped our community."