Astoria, Queens Murder

Marla Diamond/WCBS 880

6-Year-Old Boy Among 4 Dead In Suspected Triple Murder-Suicide In Astoria

July 31, 2018 - 1:19 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) --

A 6-year-old boy was among the victims in what's believed to be a triple murder-suicide in Queens.

Police were called to the first-floor apartment on 30th Drive in Astoria at around 9 p.m. Monday where they found the bodies of suspect James Shields; his son, Jimmy; and two women. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs identified one of the women as the boy's 47-year-old mother, the Associated Press reported.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea later confirmed that woman was Shields' ex-wife, and his current wife was also among the slain.

"Upon entering that location they observed in quick time four individuals that were apparently the victim of gunshot wounds," Shea said.

All four were pronounced dead at the scene. Police say a gun was also found in the apartment.

The boy's grandfather, James Shields, Sr., said his ex-daughter-in-law, who lives in Holland, had brought the child to the U.S. for a two-week visit with his father.

"She was supposed to take him next week," Shield told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.

The boy’s parents were apparently locked in a bitter international custody dispute.

Police believe the ex-wife had custody of the child, and they had come to the U.S. for visitation a week ago Saturday. A friend of the ex-wife’s also flew to the U.S. and had difficulty getting in touch with Shields’ ex-wife, Shea said.

Shea said the friend reached out to Shea’s ex-wife’s sister in the Netherlands, and then heard about the tragedy in the news.

Clues as to what may have led to the tragedy could be found on a GoFundMe page created by the little boy's father in which he asks for $30,000 to travel to Holland and fight for custody, saying to potential donors the financial strain was ruining his current marriage and his life.

“If you look at the GoFundMe page, there’s some self-reported statements that his life was spiraling out of control,” Shea said.

Shield said he knew nothing of his son's personal problems.

"He didn't talk to me much, he kept everything a secret," he said.

A search of Shields’ person uncovered two Glock firearms and seven fully loaded magazines, which contained about 70 rounds. Shea said the purpose for the ammunition “may never be known.”

Both the guns were legally owned, Shea said.

Shea said it was a property caretaker who was taking out the trash when he noticed the horrific scene inside the apartment on Monday night, WCBS 880's Steve Burns reported.

Police were working to determine if they received any relevant calls in the past from not only the apartment but the nearby area.

“We don't want to leave any stone unturned,” Shea said. “There are calls that we believe are going to be related to that building, but it's a little preliminary.”

The investigation is ongoing.