Last summer, Lance Hart shot dead his wife, daughter and himself, four days after the family had left him. His sons talk frankly about life before and after
On a warm summer day last July, Claire Hart and her 19-year-old daughter Charlotte went for an early morning swim at their local leisure centre in Spalding, Lincolnshire. It was a trip they made often, just a short drive from their home in the village of Moulton. Claires son Ryan had recently bought his mother a swimming pass as a present.
At 9am on 19 July, mother and daughter left the pool and made their way back across the car park to their blue Toyota Aygo. As they approached the car, a man crawled out from underneath it: Claires husband and Charlottes father, Lance Hart, whom the pair had left five days earlier. Now he held up a single-barrel shotgun and shot Claire three times. He then reloaded the gun and shot his daughter, before turning the gun on himself.
Alex Marchant, a manager at the sports centre, ran outside when he heard the first bang, thinking it was a car backfiring. In the distance, he saw Lance with the gun in his hand. When he got to the car, he recognised Charlotte lying on the ground. In her final moments, as Merchant cradled her, she told him, It was my dad who shot me.
Armed officers arrived at the scene, where paramedics attempted to resuscitate them, but it was too late: Lance was dead, and Claire and Charlotte had fatal injuries; neither could be saved.
In the confusion that followed, police put local schools on lockdown. Residents were warned to stay inside and lock their doors. Spalding began to trend on Twitter, and people speculated whether there had been a terrorist attack.