GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN)- Friday morning, Metro Police were called to investigate a triple murder-suicide after a 32-year-old man killed his wife, and two young daughters, before taking his own life. The crime left a community in shock.
“Of course I didn’t believe it, I didn’t think it was possible,” said Senior Pastor Joshua Culver of Bethlehem Baptist Church. “When it was confirmed I just called my associate pastor and we just cried on the phone, just not knowing exactly what to do.”
The news is still shocking for Pastor Culver. Metro police revealed during a 911 phone call, James Travis Pitts told dispatchers he had shot Barbara Pitts, 32, MaKayla Kleinert, 13, and Riley Pitts, 6, and planned to shoot himself once police arrived. He explained that he was experiencing mental health issues and “snapped.”
The family of four attended Bethlehem Baptist Church in Springfield. Pastor Culver told News 2, the incident is shocking, especially since he had just seen members of the family earlier that week and planned to see them on Sunday.
“It’s just sad. I mean it’s a tragedy and it’s not something any of us perceived happening, we never saw this coming or anything. It caught us all completely off guard. It’s heartbreaking,” said Pastor Culver.
The church held a private vigil Friday night, just hours after the Pitt’s family were found dead inside their home. The crime sent shockwaves through the community, especially for those who have known them for years.
Pastor Culver explained how “This family is going to be really missed. This is going to be a hard transition for our church.” He said Sunday’s usual service will be anything but, as he continues to figure out what exactly to say to his congregation.
“I would describe Barbara as a woman of God who was hungry to grow, she wanted to know more about Jesus. The thirteen-year-old KK, she was just baptized just a couple of months ago,” remembered Pastor Culver. “They were bright and beautiful and full of life. They were a blessing for sure.”
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Barbara and Travis both worked with the Nashville Rescue Mission. News 2 reached out to the organization for a comment on the tragedy. We were given the following statement:
“What happened is a horrific tragedy. Our hearts are broken, and our staff is shocked by this devastating event. Right now, we simply ask for prayers for this family and our staff as we grieve this tragic loss.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. If you need help, please call 1-800-273-8255.