A family found dead in their Herndon, Va., home Tuesday is believed to have died in a murder-suicide, Fairfax County Police say.
Police said Albert Peterson, 57, killed his wife, Kathleen, 52, and their two sons, Christopher and Matthew, before turning the gun on himself.
Police were asked to check on the family about 10:30 a.m. after Kathleen failed to show up for work for the second consecutive day. Police entered the home in the 13300 block of Point Rider Lane just after noon Tuesday and found the bodies of the Peterson family.
All four died of gunshot wounds to the upper body, according to the Office of the Medical Examiner.
Classmates Hold Hands as They Mourn Herndon Family
A candelight vigil will be held Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at the family's church, Floris United Methodist in Herndon.
Classmates of the boys remembered them at their schools Wednesday.
Students at Westfield High School, where Matthew, 16, was a 10th grader, held hands in a long chain outside the building during an impromptu gathering.
Family of Four Found Dead in Herndon, Va.
Christopher, 13, was an 8th grader at Rachel Carson Middle School. Friends and classmates of both brothers have been sharing their grief and offering stories about the boys on Twitter.
One classmate posted a note that read in part, "I cry as I write this because I know I will never get to see your smiling face again."
Neighbors placed flowers in front of the Petersons' home. They are in a state of shock.
CHOPPER: Four Dead at Herndon Home
“I know a lot of families in this community who are really sad, very grieved and very troubled,” said the Rev. Tom Berlin, a pastor at Floris United Methodist Church.
Kathleen was an employee of Blackbird Technologies, a Herndon information technology firm that works with defense, intelligence and law enforcement customers.
"Kathie Peterson worked as an integral and well respected member of Blackbird Technologies’ Procurement Team," Blackbird's CEO, Peggy Styer, said in a statement Wednesday. "She will be remembered as a high energy, devoted parent who always had a smile to share.
"She often told stories about her sons, their sports and community activities," the statement read. "She is already missed. We have lost a member of our Blackbird family. We are still trying to absorb the shock of this tragedy."
None of the family members was at work or school on Monday or Tuesday, giving police an indication of when the family died.
One neighbor said that she had been awakened early Sunday morning by a "banging noise," but another person who knew the family told NBC Washington that Christopher Peterson was at a soccer game until 8 p.m. that day.
Neighbors said the family had lived in the home in the Borneham Wood subdivision for 28 years and called them a "fixture" in the neighborhood, often outside or on their porch.
The boys could frequently be seen playing soccer in the yard, neighbors said.
"[Neighbors] have characterized the family as 'The Greeters,'" said a Fairfax County Police spokesperson. "They were out all the time, jovial, waving to neighbors and engaging them in conversation, so they will obviously be missed."
Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for updates as they become available.