MESQUITE, Texas -- The Dallas County Medical Examiner ruled Thursday that a 43-year-old mother opened fire on her family, killing her husband and children, before shooting herself in their Mesquite home.
It's a surprising development after police discovered the bodies Wednesday morning -- likely days after they had been shot.
Police say Angelica Vazquez shot and killed her husband, Marcelo Vazquez, 44, and their two college-aged children Paulina and Alex. Investigators found a handgun next to the mother's body in the master bedroom in the home on the 1400 block of Paintbrush Street.
The deaths shocked friends of the children. Alex, 18, graduated from Mesquite High last year and was attending nearby Eastfield College.
"He was the sweetest thing," said Miranda Arnette, 16, who used to bowl with Alex on their high school team. "He could light up a room with his smile."
Paulina, 21, was home for spring break from the University of North Texas in Denton. Friends say she was popular and performed on her high school drill team.
"She was a sweetheart," said former classmate Marissa Arnette, 19. "She never had a bad thing to say to anybody."
Neighbors first suspected something was wrong when they heard gunshots on Saturday at 6:30 a.m. Police knocked on the door, but found nothing suspicious and left without entering.
Suspicion, however, grew over the next few days. The couple's children quit tweeting around 1 a.m. that Saturday morning. Officers returned Wednesday morning and forced their way inside after they noticed the mail and newspapers had piled up in the front yard.
Inside the home, police found bodies scattered in different rooms. Investigators had to enter through a window, since a body was blocking the front door.
Marcelo worked as a truck driver, and his wife worked at a school. Friends say she had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and was undergoing chemotherapy. Yet, police have nothing to indicate why she killed her family.
"I can't believe it," Marissa Arnette said. "It shouldn't have happened."