Custody battle leaves four dead in New York murder-suicide

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A father locked in a custody battle shot dead his six-year-old son, his ex-wife and his current wife in his New York City apartment before killing himself on Monday evening, according to police and local news outlets.

The father, 39-year-old James Shields, had been fighting his Dutch ex-wife in court for greater access to his son, who lived with his mother in The Netherlands, the New York Post reported, citing Shields’ father.

Shields begged for help with legal funds in a GoFundMe page he created in April, saying the custody battle was also straining his second marriage.

“I had the perfect life a few years ago but it has spiraled out of control,” Shields wrote in the fundraising post, entitled “Child Kidnapping” and illustrated with a photo of a young blond boy wearing a bow tie. He had raised none of the $30,000 he sought.

Shields’ father, James Shields Sr., briefly spoke to reporters outside the apartment on Tuesday before being led away by police. He called his son “a good boy” and his grandson “a beautiful boy,” the Post reported.

A New York Police Department spokesman declined to confirm the news accounts and said the identities of the four people found dead at the apartment in the borough of Queens had not been publicly released. Police said the deceased were a man, two women and a young boy.

Police had earlier said they were investigating if the shooting was a murder-suicide.

A pistol was found at the scene, the Post reported.

Reporting by Jonathan Allen,; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Alistair Bell

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