Gunshots were heard before the body of Epsom College’s headmistress was found alongside her family, according to reports.
Emma Pattison, 45, husband George, 39 and seven-year-old Lettie were discovered lifeless in the early hours of Sunday morning on the grounds of the private school.
It is an isolated incident and there was no third-party involvement, Surrey Police said.
A member of staff at the school in Epsom, Surrey, reportedly called emergency services after gunshots rang out early on Sunday, a source is said to have told the Daily Telegraph.
It is believed the Pattison’s house is surrounded by the homes of other teachers and staff.
The property is located next to the school’s rifle range, which was cordoned off this morning as police launch an investigation.
No live ammunition is kept at the rifle range, the source claimed.
Epsom College said it is ‘utterly shocked’ and in ‘disbelief’ over the tragedy.
Pupils attended a chapel service this morning with flags on the grounds of the school – where fees for boarding pupils are £42,000 a year – flying at half-mast.
Staff are said to be in discussions over closing the school early this week for day pupils.
But the source told the Telegraph it is not an option to fully close the school due to international students boarding.
Mrs Pattison became Epsom College’s first female head in September last year after six years leading staff at Croydon High School in south London.
In a podcast released weeks earlier, she revealed how her family had gone through ‘big changes’ since she started her new role.
‘I’ve got a new job, my husband has got a new job, that wasn’t meant to happen but it did and my daughter has started a new school so there’s been a lot of change for us as a family.’
More than 850 boys and girls attend the school, which was founded in 1853.
In a statement on its website, Epsom College described the tragedy as ‘heart-breaking’.
A spokesman said: ‘It is with the deepest sadness and regret that we have to announce the news of the deaths of Emma Pattison, head of Epsom College, her daughter Lettie, and her husband George.
‘Our thoughts, condolences and sympathies are with their families at this tragic time. The college is working with the police in what remains an ongoing investigation.
‘We must now focus on the welfare and wellbeing of our pupils and staff, and work to ensure that they receive all the comfort, warmth and support required from the Epsom College community.
‘The news is heart-breaking and we need time and space to come together and process this loss.’
Mrs Patterson was a ‘hugely respected and much-loved head of Croydon High’, the school said in a statement, hailing her as a ‘warm, energetic compassionate leader, dedicated teacher and generous, insightful colleague and friend.’
Local MP Chris Grayling described the deaths as an ‘appalling tragedy’, adding: ‘I know everyone locally will be shocked about what has happened.’
Police said the family’s next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.
There will be an increased police presence in the area to provide reassurance to residents.
The three deaths have been reported to the coroner.
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