A mother shot and killed her two young children in their beds and seriously wounded her husband before crashing the family truck as she fled.
When paramedics found Suzanna Simpson in the wrecked vehicle, they were stunned when she told them: "OK, OK, I shot my whole family."
Police went to Simpson's home and found her five-year-old son son Sawyer and her seven-year-old daughter Carly lying dead in their bedrooms.
Her 34-year-old husband Michael was also shot in the head while in bed and remains hospitalised with life-threatening injuries, investigators said.
The tragedy happened in Dacusville, Pickens County, South Carolina, at around 6am on Tuesday.
Pickens Country Sheriff's Office revealed that Simpson, 35, told a nurse at the hospital she wanted to kill herself, but just couldn't do it.
"I shot my kids, then my husband and tried to shoot myself several times but couldn't do it," she said at Greenville Memorial Hospital according to the arrest warrant.
Deputies are still trying to figure out what happened and why Simpson decided to shoot her family.
The mother has been charged with two counts of murder and attempted murder.
In a statement, school Principal Michael Fleming said: "Dacusville Elementary is deeply saddened by the loss of two of our children, Carly and Sawyer Simpson.
"Both students were very special to the faculty, staff, and children of our school. Carly had a beautiful smile that brightened everyone's day. Sawyer's excitement for learning was contagious. Our heartfelt condolences go to the family."