Duluth Police: East Hillside deaths a result of murder-suicide

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Duluth Police say it appears the deaths at an East Hillside residence on Wednesday were the result of a murder-suicide, with four family members fatally shot while they slept.

The murder victims are 44-year-old Riana Lou Barry, 47-year-old Sean Christopher Barry, 12-year-old Shiway Elizabeth Barry, and 9-year-old Sadie Lucille Barry. Police say 29-year-old Brandon Taylor Cole-Skogstad, a nephew of the Barrys, is believed to have taken his own life after shooting the family members.

Police in Hermantown first got the call to check Cole-Skogstad at a location in Hermantown on Wednesday morning, but he was not at that location. It was his address, but he sometimes stayed with the Barrys.

Hermantown Police then made contact with a family member who reported that Cole-Skogstad had sent a message saying that he intended to harm himself and other family members. Duluth Police say it is believed that the message that had been sent to the family member was later posted on a public social media page.

The investigation then moved to the Barry home on the 700 block of East 12th Street, where police found five people and a dog deceased.

When they approached the home, police said they heard what sounded like a single gunshot. They retreated, and then returned with drones and robots. A full search of the home lead to the tragic discovery.

They say a single weapon was found in close proximity to the suspect. Police confirmed it was Cole-Skogstad’s.

“It’s tough on all of us, it’s tough on our cops. Some police officers, a lot of them, have families, and anytime you go into a sitituation like this, it is terribly difficult, and you can’t unsee it,” Chief Mike Tusken said at a news conference Thursday.

Police provide services including peer support, professional psychological services, and chaplain services to officers.

On Thursday, a crime scene truck pulled up and investigators went inside the home again.

One neighbor told us that he didn’t know them well. But that the mom was active with the girls. And that they would sell Girl Scout Cookies up the block.

Superintendent John Magas released a statement: “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy in our community. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all family and community members affected. Any staff or student in our district who needs counseling and mental health support will receive it.”


Friends and family of Sean, Riana, Shiway, and Sadie Barry are shocked and devasted by their deaths on Wednesday. They have set up a Go Fund Me account to help pay for the cost of funeral services and other expenses. To donate visit the GO FUND ME page.


City Council President Arik Forsman said he knew the victims as neighbors when they lived in the Lakeside neighborhood.

City Council leaders issued a statement saying, “Our hearts have been shattered these past 24 hours in Duluth. No family or community should have to go through such an unspeakable tragedy and it’s hard to even put into words the sadness we feel as a Duluthians. Our hearts, our prayers, and all of our love go out to the family, as well as the entire neighborhood. We’re a strong city – we take care of each other – and we know we’ll pull together as a community to support those who need our help right now. We also want to say we are grateful for the Duluth Police Department and know yesterday was a very hard day for the officers who responded.”

Police said there was no record of 911 calls from the address indicating any previous concerns.

To donate to the Barry family to help cover funeral and travel expenses, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/sean-and-riana-barry-family.

Watch the full press conference below.