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New Town deaths reverberate in Minto

MINTO -- Counselors spent Monday and Tuesday at Minto Public School helping students cope with the weekend deaths of three children who, until this year, were their classmates.

Benjamin Schuster, 13, Julia Schuster, 10, Luke Schuster, 6, and their grandmother, 64-year-old Martha Johnson, were killed Sunday in Johnson's home in New Town where the children had been living since September.

"They were marvelous kids, just kind and gentle kids," said Superintendent Linda Lutovsky, who also serves as a school counselor.

A fourth child, who is 12, witnessed the shootings. The boy, police said, survived by playing dead, and then called 911. A fifth child was away from the home at the time.

The community is searching not just for answers, but for any kind of information about the tragedy, which occurred 300 miles away.

Kalcie Eagle, 21, of New Town, identified as a "person of interest" in the deaths, committed suicide in front of police Sunday. However, authorities said Tuesday they still are trying to determine what role, if any, Eagle had in the slayings.

The Minto community also is waiting for word on funeral services and whether memorials or financial accounts will be established for the family.

The children's parents, Kevin and Rebecca Schuster, are in the New Town and Minot area, talking with investigators, as well as spending time with their two surviving children, who are receiving counseling, according to Scott Schuster, Kevin's cousin.

"It's just a horrible deal," he said. "He's the type of guy who holds his emotions in pretty well. His main concern now is the two surviving children.

"There's going to be a service, probably next week. Hopefully, it will be in Warsaw."

The Schusters are members of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Warsaw, about six miles west of Minto.

"Our parish family of St. Stanislaus Church in Warsaw as well as our fellow parishioners at Sacred Heart Church in Minto are deeply saddened and shocked by this senseless tragedy," the Rev. John Kleinschmidt, pastor of both churches, said in a statement. "We pray for Rebecca and Kevin Schuster and especially for the surviving children, that the heart of Jesus may bring them healing in this time of sorrow.

"We also commend Rebecca's mom and her three children who have passed away to God's love. They were beautiful children who, for many years, came often to worship with us on Sundays and to religious education. We will miss their smiles, even though we know they are in their Father's love. Besides our love and prayers, we also extend whatever help the Schuster family may need in the coming days."