ANGELS CAMP -- Chaplains, counselors and others trained to aid the grieving were on hand at Bret Harte Union High School on Monday as students returned for the first time since two classmates were found shot dead, apparently by their father.
While friends and peers at the school mourned Alex Marshall, 17, and his sister, Macaila Marshall, 14, so, too, did many adults in towns along Highway 4.
In Murphys, First Congregational Church opened its doors for the day, inviting community members to pray for the dead and the grieving. Just down Highway 4, the flag at Chatom Vineyards flew at half staff.
In Angels Camp, the directors of the Calaveras 4 Teens Center arranged to have a counselor present daily from 3 to 6 p.m. for any teens stopping by after school.
And the adults, like the young people, asked again and again why Phillip Marshall, 54, took the lives of his children, and even the family dog, before turning the gun on himself.
"It is probably the worst thing I've ever walked into. And I've been the coroner for 11 years," said Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio.
Calaveras County sheriff's investigators found the bodies at the family's home in Forest Meadows on Saturday afternoon. But they did not find any evidence indicating Phillip Marshall's motivation.
Some details released Monday, however, indicated that there had been tension between Marshall and some of his relatives.
The sheriff's office issued a statement indicating that in November 2008, Phillip Marshall filed a crime report alleging that his estranged wife, Sean Marshall, had committed burglary.
The next month, Sean Marshall's sister, Erin Chamberlain, filed a crime report alleging that Phillip Marshall slapped her during an argument outside of Sean Marshall's home in Murphys.
According to the report, the confrontation occurred as Phillip Marshall argued with Sean Marshall over Phillip wanting to see his daughter Macaila.
After that incident, Phillip Marshall was arrested and jailed on suspicion of battery, disturbing the peace and making harassing phone calls. But sheriff's Sgt. Chris Hewitt said the district attorney's office ultimately decided not to prosecute the case.
Also Monday, the sheriff's office identified the weapon that Marshall used as a 9 mm Glock handgun and said evidence at the scene indicated that the two children were most likely asleep when their father shot them.
Investigators said they had ruled out the possibility that someone other than Marshall was responsible for the killings.
Raggio said an autopsy will be conducted today. Investigators are not yet certain when the shootings happened, except that it was between Thursday night when the two children ceased texting their friends and Saturday afternoon when the bodies were found.
The Rev. Ray Bohrbaum, a chaplain with Murphys Fire District, was among those present to assist Monday as dozens of students gathered in the school's learning center to talk, weep and grieve.
"It's a hard thing to handle at an early age," Bohrbaum said. "But you look around and talk to these kids, and they're strong. These kids are strong."
The Calaveras County Sheriff's Office announced that there will be two events honoring the memory of slain students Alex and Macaila Marshall:
Students at Bret Harte Union High School will hold a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Wednesday on the quad at the school, 323 S. Main St., Angels Camp.
A public memorial will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the high school football stadium off Murphys Grade Road in Angels Camp.
School students and staff invite all those touched by the deaths to participate in both events.