Nearly a week ago, on June 24 , his 45th birthday, Jason Sheats gathered with his family in the living room of their Houston-suburb home about 5 p.m. Beside him were his daughters, Taylor, 22, and Madison, 17. His wife, Christy, had called a family meeting.

After years of challenges with Christy’s mental health, her struggles with depression and anxiety, her suicide attempts, Jason told authorities that he thought perhaps she was going to announce she had decided to file for divorce. The couple had talked about separating.

But instead, police said, the 42-year-old mother pulled out a .38 caliber handgun, a gift from her late grandfather, and pointed it at her screaming children. Then she shot them, inside the house and out in the street, where the girls collapsed and stopped moving. When law enforcement arrived, they watched Christy fire a final bullet into her eldest daughter, then a police officer shot the mother dead.

Jason Sheats walked away physically unscathed.

But he was so emotionally distraught, so numb from what he’d witnessed, that authorities hospitalized him anyway.

In interviews with police, Jason said he believes that was all part of Christy’s plan.

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