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Father talked guns, safety hours before shooting

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In less than 12 hours, the two young boys playing race cars on the floor of a local business Saturday afternoon would be dead at the hands of their father in what authorities are calling a murder-attempted suicide.

There was no way, of course, for anyone to know that when Shawn Fuller and his 3- and 4-year-old sons walked into the Statesville store around 5 p.m. But for Kelli Simko, 37, who was also in the store at the time, something seemed off.

Less than half a day later, Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell said deputies responded to a residence on Trent Road where they found Fuller with a self-inflicted gunshot wound and the two boys, who were both pronounced dead.

“He had a gun on his belt,” Simko said of her interaction with Fuller earlier in the day. “He told (the clerk) he wouldn’t shop anywhere he couldn’t bring his gun.”

While Fuller browsed the store — he told the clerk he was looking for something for his wife — Simko grabbed a basket of toys and started to play with the boys.

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“They were so smart, so adorable, they were vibrant,” she said. “I don’t usually just start playing with kids on the floor — I purposely did that because I felt there was just this eerie feeling.”

In addition to several comments about carrying his gun openly, Fuller talked about how he enrolled his boys in self-defense classes because of how the world is today.

“He said how you can’t even walk into a movie theater anymore,” she said.

As Fuller left, Simko said he thanked her for playing with the boys. She added: Fuller seemed affectionate with them during their time there. “I just can’t believe it. … It’s just so sad."

As she was getting ready for church the next morning, Simko took a minute to check her phone and saw the headline on statesville.com — “Sheriff: Two boys dead in apparent murder-attempted suicide.” She felt a sense of unease.

She searched online and found Fuller’s Facebook profile, which included photos of guns and Confederate flags.

“It was him… and it was those two little boys… and I can’t stop crying,” she said as the tears began again. “Those two little souls were so sweet, and we just sat on the floor and played race cars for 30 minutes. … It’s just important to say… they were just sweet, sweet kids.”

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Iredell County Sheriff’s Office detectives following up on a missing persons report found a body off Parkertown Road near Troutman on Thursday and the death is being investigated as a homicide, said Sheriff Darren Campbell.

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