A man in Luzerne County shot his ex-girlfriend and toddler son before taking his own life while driving along Interstate 81, Pennsylvania State Police said.
State police at Wyoming at 5:30 a.m. Saturday began receiving reports about an erratic driver along I-81 north in Pittston Township, Luzerne County. Witnesses said the vehicle was swerving and changing speeds before veering off the road onto the grassy median.
By the time troopers arrived, 23-year-old Zackary Charles Yashkus had shot himself in the head while in the driver's seat, police said.
Yashkus' 3-year-old son, seated in car seat in the back of the car, also had a bullet wound to the head, but was still breathing, police said. The child was taken to Geisinger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:42 a.m.
Police later conducted a welfare check of the boy's mother in the 300 block of Mclean Street. Troopers at 7:10 a.m. found 21-year-old Sharae Thompson dead in a Jeep parked in the driveway with a bullet wound to the head, police said.
Police say the pair had been arguing just after 5 a.m. Saturday. It is confirmed by police the child and Thompson both died from gunshots fired by Yashkus.
Yashkus had twice faced assault charges in the past four years, according to the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader.
Yashkus was charged in 2012 with aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment after police said he cut the neck of a 17-year-old female. In 2015, Yashkus faced simple assault and harassment charges, which also were dropped, according to the newspaper's report.
The Times-Leader reported the charges were later dropped in both cases.
Man kills toddler son, ex-girlfriend in murder-suicide, cops say Pamela Sroka-Holzmann November 20, 2016
Why did Zachary Charles Yashkus, 23, shoot and kill his former girlfriend, Sharae Thompson, 21, of Wilkes-Barre, then drive off with their 3-year-old son before fatally wounding him and turning the gun on himself on a Luzerne County highway, as Pennsylvania State Police laid out in a news release?
There was a brief argument prior to the first shooting at 5:05 a.m. Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, police said.
And there were previous acts of violence, the Citizens' Voice news paper reports.
But it was left to Facebook for as close to an explanation as there might be, the newspaper said.
"I'm dead everyone I'm sorry I couldn't control my demons," Yashkus apparently wrote likely after killing Thompson but before shooting their son, the newspaper said.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help pay for the funeral of Thompson and the boy, who the page identifies as Xander. They did not have life insurance, the site said. As of just before 8 a.m. Monday, $2,120 of the $8,000 goal had been raised, the site said.