Michael League called 911 early Sunday to report he’d “committed a father’s worst sin,” authorities said.
League, 69, told police he took his .22-caliber Ruger pistol and shot his adult son and daughter in the head as they slept in his Puyallup home, court records show.
He allegedly used a pillow to muffle the sound of the gunshots so as not to wake his wife and two young grandsons, who also were asleep in the house, the records state.
Pierce County prosecutors charged him Monday with first-degree murder in the death of Danielle Faucett, 43, and attempted first-degree murder in the wounding of Dennis League, 46.
The younger League was in grave condition in a local hospital and not expected to survive, deputy prosecutor Phil Sorensen said in court Monday. Sorensen said the charges against League would be upgraded if Dennis League dies.
Not guilty pleas were entered on League’s behalf. Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered him jailed in lieu of $2 million bail.
League hung his head and wept as the charges were read against him. He appeared in court in a wheelchair and a padded smock reserved for jail inmates considered a danger to themselves or others.
Raymond and Donna McArthur, who said they are friends of League, attended his arraignment, sitting in the front row. Raymond McArthur said League was “a broken man.”
“That’s not the friend I know,” McArthur told reporters outside court. “Something snapped.”
League, who called 911 to report the shootings, told a dispatcher that his children’s use of drugs and alcohol over the years “tore our family apart.”
“I just shot my daughter in the head and my son in the head,” a crying League told the dispatcher, a woman who patiently listened and asked him questions. “I had to put them out of their misery and get rid of their demons, and now I’m going to have to shoot myself.”
League’s wife, Jo Ann, later told investigators she and her husband had been under a lot of stress with having their children living with them. The son has an alcohol problem and their daughter was schizophrenic, League’s wife told investigators.
“Jo Ann said that on a prior occasion as they contemplated their various issues, League told her he should just ‘shoot ‘em, shoot us all,’?” court records show. “She said she did not take this comment seriously.”
She told police her husband had not been drinking Saturday night but was taking medication for pain, depression, a breathing disorder and high cholesterol, court records show.
League was obviously distraught while talking to the dispatcher, according to a recording of the call released by Puyallup police. He cried often and seemed to have trouble breathing.
He told the dispatcher he and his wife of 48 years went away for three days recently and returned to find that police had been called to their home after his daughter allegedly tried to attack her brother with a knife.
“My wife was about ready to have a nervous breakdown,” League said. “I want to die. I’m so sorry.”
The dispatcher talked him into putting the gun down and walking to the front door to meet officers.
“Do what the police say, OK?” she told him.
Officers could be heard in the background commanding League to “keep walking, keep walking, Michael, all the way down.”
He later was arrested and booked into the Pierce County Jail.
Police said they had responded to the Leagues’ house in the 1500 block of Fifth Street Southeast several times for domestic-violence related calls, and a neighbor said police had visited the house to deal with Dennis League.