On early Monday, police forced their way into the red brick house in Allen, Tex. Inside, they found six people dead: Farhan Towhid; his brother, Tanvir Towhid, 21; his father, Towhidul Islam, 54; his mother, Iren Islam, 56; his grandmother Altafun Nessa, 77; and his 19-year-old twin sister, Farbin Towhid.
They had all been shot to death, police told The Washington Post, by Farhan and Tanvir Towhid as part of a suicide pact the pair had planned out for over a month.
“It looks like the two … sons entered into an agreement that they were going to [die by] suicide and that they were going to take their family members with them,” Allen Police Department Sgt. Jon Felty told KRLD.
Police have not confirmed when the deaths took place but said it is likely the brothers killed their family members on Saturday night.
The mass killing of the family, which moved to the United States from Bangladesh about 15 years ago, left friends and neighbors in shock.
“We just can’t believe it happened to this family,” family friend Sied Chowdhury, 60, told The Post. “They are a very loving family. We didn’t see anything wrong with the family, any problems.”
The Towhid family first settled in New York before moving to Allen, a northern suburb of Dallas, Chowdhury said. Towhidul, the father, worked in information technology while his wife, Iren, took care of the house and their children. A neighbor told the Dallas Morning News that Altafun, the grandmother, was visiting from Bangladesh and was scheduled to return home last week, but her flight got postponed because of the pandemic.
Farbin, Farhan’s twin sister, had recently accepted a full scholarship to attend New York University, KDFW reported.
According to Farhan’s note on Instagram, he and his brother Tanvir had struggled with mental illness for years.
Farhan wrote that he had suffered from depression since the ninth grade and had repeatedly harmed himself. His family had tried to help him, but he said that his mental health issues had recently worsened. He had been studying computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, he wrote, but was expelled from his dorm in the winter after telling a roommate that he planned to kill his family.
He moved home, where Tanvir, whom he described as “depressed and socially anxious,” was staying.
Eventually, the pair decided to kill their family and then themselves, he wrote. “Instead of having to deal with the aftermath of my suicide, I could just do them a favor and take them with me,” the note reads.
The pair bought guns, he wrote, adding that “gun control in the U.S. is a joke” because the pair lied when asked if they were suffering from mental illness. Police did not confirm how many guns were used in the shooting, adding that Tanvir was able to legally purchase a gun “recently,” KXAS reported.
It is unclear when exactly Farhan allegedly posted the note to Instagram, but police said officers arrived at the home around 1 a.m. on Monday.
“We have never had an incident like this in the 21 years that I’ve been here,” Felty told KXAS. “It’s just a tragedy. There’s no other way to describe it.”
Felty said none of the neighbors reported hearing gunshots and police received no reports of gunfire in the area. The family had never reported any issues to the police, he added.
Chowdhury said the Bangladeshi community in the area is still grappling with the news. The loss of the family, which was active in the Bangladesh Association of North Texas, leaves a void in the tightknit community.
The association’s general secretary, Nahida Ali, called the news “horrific” and “shocking” in a Facebook post on Monday. The University of Texas at Austin also mourned the death of the brothers, whom the university described as former students.
“Today we received extremely sad news about the deaths of two former students,” the university said in a statement shared with KTVT. “The news is devastating to our university. We express our deepest sympathies to their extended family and friends.”
Some members of the Bangladeshi community arrived at the scene early on Monday morning and did not leave until the family’s bodies were removed from the home around 6 p.m., Chowdhury said.
“I’ve never seen a crime like this,” Chowdhury said. “This is hard to swallow. They had a lot of friends in the neighborhood. It’s pretty heartbreaking for the community.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.