MANCHESTER, NH (CBS/AP) — A man and his 9-year-old son are dead after the Manchester father opened fire Sunday morning inside the city’s YWCA, law enforcement officials said.
Police were called to the Concord Street YWCA around 10:11 a.m.
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office reported Muni Savyon, 54, of Manchester, shot Joshua Savyon, 9, of Amherst, multiple times then shot himself to death.
Savyon and the boy were in the family visitation center on the second floor of the building before the shooting, the AG’s office reported, adding a counselor who was with them was not harmed in the incident. Officers discovered the bodies of Muni and Joshua Savyon inside a room at the visitation center.
Muni Savyon arrived at the YWCA at 9:30 a.m. for a one-hour supervised visit with his son, the AG reported. Partway through the visitation, Savyon armed himself with a handgun, shot his son several times, then turned the gun on himself, according to the AG.
Autopsies will be conducted Monday to determine the exact cause and manner of death.
The father sent an email to a friend suggesting he was suicidal before the shootings, said Rabbi Levi Krinsky of Chabad Lubavitch in Manchester. Krinsky said Savyon had been depressed after recently returning from his brother’s funeral in Israel, but Krinsky said he had seen Savyon last week and had no concerns he would harm himself or someone else.
“What would provoke him to take his life and his son’s life? I don’t think anyone can figure that out,” said Krinsky, who added Savyon attended synagogue occasionally. “My heart goes out to the family.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports
On Sundays, the YWCA is open for supervised child visitation and custody exchanges. Krinsky said the Savyon and the boy’s mother shared custody of the boy after parting ways years ago. The couple’s marital status wasn’t clear; Krinsky said the couple were divorced, but law enforcement officials said the two were separated.
The relationship between Muni Savyon and the boy’s mother had been contentious at times and included threats by Savyon to kill himself, his son’s mother and their son, the AG reported.
But Ellen Savyon Vig, who was once married to Muni Savyon and had remained friends with him after their 1997 divorce, described him as a kind-hearted person. She said he was especially close to his brother and he loved his son, trying to give him varied experiences.
“He was nonviolent. He would try to help anyone he could. He was a really nice guy,” she said from her home in North Billerica, Mass.
Savyon was active in Libertarian causes, Vig said, and was a twice-defeated candidate for the N.H. Legislature, most recently in February.
“Please keep the Savyon family in your thoughts and prayers as they cope with the unimaginable,” Rep. Peter King, who easily beat Savyon in a special election for the N.H. House, said from his Twitter account.
Born in Israel, Savyon was a naturalized citizen who lived in several Western states before coming to New England, where he worked as a software engineer, Vig said.
According to the YWCA website, the YWCA Visitation Center facilitates safe and consistent visitation for children and their non-residential parents during the most volatile time of a family’s separation.
The website says: “Services at the center include fully and semi-supervised visits, which are appropriate when there is a risk of physical or psychological abuse toward the child by the non-residential parent, and when there are credible risks of abduction.”
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)