A middle-aged man stood silently near a memorial of flowers, candles, Teddy bears and handwritten notes before walking up and dropping to one knee.
Wiping tears from his eyes, he briefly put a hand on one of the three wooden crosses that were placed on the ground. A few moments later, he stood up and walked across the street, turning around one more time to look before getting into his car and driving off.
Mourners came and went from the memorial outside 450 S. 1st St. in west suburban St. Charles for much of Saturday’s morning and afternoon.
It was in a condo there Friday evening that twin 16-year-old sisters Brittany and Tiffany Coffland and their father, Randall Coffland, 48, were fatally shot, authorities said. Randall Coffland’s wife, Anjum Coffland, 46, whom police said was the girls’ mother, was also shot but survived.
James Peterson, a senior at St. Charles East High School, where the sisters attended as juniors, leaned against a streetlight and said a prayer.
“No one believes it,” Peterson said. “Everyone’s in shock. Monday’s going to be hard at school.”
The high school, about 2 miles away from the condo, was open to offer grief counseling Saturday, according to school officials. Depending on the turnout, counselors may be at the school again Sunday.
Peterson, who lost his own father at a young age, said death makes him look at life in “a different way.”
The St. Charles East community, he said, was very supportive and would rally together in the wake of the Coffland twins’ deaths.
“I know everyone has a ton of support behind them, and everyone has each other’s backs, and that’s the great thing about St. Charles East,” Peterson said. “I know that there’s a ton of strong people, and everyone just comes together and loves one another.”
In a statement Saturday, St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina said “we will stand tall and provide calm and peace.”
“Being the close-knit community we are, an incident of this nature has impact beyond the immediate family – we think about and pray for the extended family, which includes relatives, high school students and other friends,” he added.
According to police, officers were previously called to the condo on Feb. 9 “for a report of domestic trouble,” but “nothing physical happened” in that incident.
Randall Coffland and his wife, though married, lived at separate residences, police said.
Police did not say who they believed the shooter to be, though investigators said there was no danger to the public.
“This is a very difficult for the first responders to work with,” St. Charles Police Department Deputy Chief David Kintz told the Daily Herald. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to family members who are left to deal with this tragic situation.”
Randall Coffland worked as an IT manager at a Chicago law firm, according to his LinkedIn page. His wife previously worked in the Kendall County Recorder’s office but had been employed as an insurance claims adjuster since September 2015, according to her LinkedIn page.
Contributing: Associated Press