The owner of a North Dakota farm was found dead in a wheat field with three family members after a possible murder-suicide that loved ones described as a “complete nightmare.”

Douglas Dulmage, 56, was fatally shot on his combine harvester in a field south of Cando on Monday, friends and police said.

Three other men found dead in the field were identified by the Towner County Sheriff’s Office as relatives Justin Bracken, 34; Richard Bracken, 64; and Robert Bracken, 59, of Cando. The three had been working on harvesting the field with Dulmage at the time of the shooting.

Douglas Dulmage's friend said he was shot while one his combine harvester in a field near Cando.
Douglas Dulmage’s friend said he was shot while one his combine harvester in a field near Cando.
KVLV

His family is “living a complete nightmare,” his close friend Pat Traynor told The Associated Press.

Deputies found each of the four men dead in the field from gunshot wounds. A .357 revolver was recovered near one of the bodies, but officials did not say which body.

“Evidence from the scene indicates that this incident was a murder-suicide and there is no known threat to the public,” Sheriff Andrew Hillier said in a statement.

No other details surrounding the circumstances of the case have been released. The Sheriff’s office said a forensic medical examination of the victims would take place in the next few days.

Traynor said Dulmage owned the property. He lived in the neighboring town of Leeds with his wife and two children but farmed with his 95-year-old father on their land outside of town.

The deaths come at a critical time in rural North Dakota, just ahead of the harvesting season. Traynor said local farmers and friends of the Dulmage family have already met to discuss how they will handle the upcoming harvest of wheat, corn and soybeans.

North Dakota’s Farm Bureau President Daryl Lies said Dulmage served as president of the Benson County Farm Bureau.

“It’s hard to grasp and understand why something like this can happen in rural North Dakota,” he said.

The deaths of the four men come just ahead of the region's major harvest.
The deaths of the four men come just ahead of the region’s major harvest.
KVLV

Cando is a town of just over 1,000 people, located just 40 miles south of the Canadian border and 118 miles west of Grand Forks.

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