London – Two teenage brothers died and their four siblings were taken to hospital following a major domestic incident on Friday.
Neighbours reported seeing children wearing bandages and crying as they were led from their Sheffied home early Friday.
Paramedics were also seen desperately trying to resuscitate one of the boys on a stretcher outside.
Police confirmed a 37-year-old man and a 34-year-old woman, believed to be the dead boys’ mother, had been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Officers have not revealed how the brothers, who were aged 13 and 14, died. Post-mortem examinations were due to be carried out Friday evening.
Speculation on social media suggested they had been suffocated or poisoned.
The four surviving children, two boys aged 11 and ten, and two girls, aged three and just seven months, were conscious when police arrived and are not thought to have life-threatening injuries. Friday night, relatives of the children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were too upset to comment.
Officers were called to the property in the Shiregreen area in the north of the city at around 7.30am on Friday. Up to 15 police cars, two riot vans and four ambulances descended on the semi-detached home in a residential street, which was quickly sealed off, while the air ambulance landed at a nearby primary school.
Superintendent Paul McCurry, of South Yorkshire Police, said they were alerted after an ‘independent call for assistance’.
He refused to confirm whether a weapon was used or if the two people arrested were injured.
But he added: ‘There is no wider risk to the community.’
Superintendent McCurry said detectives were supporting the family and the surviving children were being given the ‘care they needed’ at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Forensic officers spent much of Friday looking for clues at the end-of-terrace property and its unkempt garden, which included a trampoline and was scattered with children’s toys.
One neighbour said they saw the two youngest children being taken from the home, looking ‘fine, although very upset’, adding: ‘Then the two youngest boys walked out and they also seemed okay.
‘But then one of the other lads was brought out on a stretcher and was being resuscitated.’
Neighbour Aaron Brunskill, 29, said he watched while police swarmed into the area and paramedics put the children into ambulances. We saw the first two ambulances take away children,’ he said. ‘There was a small toddler, less than two years old, taken away in another ambulance. I don’t know if they were injured.’
At least one of the deceased boys is believed to have attended Firth Park Academy nearby.
On Friday, well-wishers brought flowers and balloons to the police cordon surrounding the scene. One woman laying flowers said: ‘It’s just so sad. I hope the rest of the kids get well.’ Local Labour MP Gill Furniss said the Shiregreen community was ‘deeply shaken’ by the tragedy.
She added: ‘My deepest sympathies are with the loved-ones of the children who have lost their lives and also with those who are currently in the care of Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
‘Shiregreen is a strong community, but I know the whole area Is deeply shaken by what has happened.’