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4 January 2012, 11:05
The family of Susan McGoldrick, her sister Alison Turnbull and her niece Tanya Turnbull have paid tribute to their three family members who died earlier this week in the Horden area of Peterlee.
Michael Atherton, who was 42 and a taxi driver from Greenside Close in Horden, shot and killed the 3 women before turning the gun on himself on New Year's Day.
A full investigation's underway into the shootings.
Durham Police voluntarily referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) after it emerged they'd had contact with Michael Atherton in 2008.
You can read the full family tributes below:
Susan McGoldrick (Aged 47)
Susan McGoldrick's family said:
"We as a family would like to take this opportunity to express our devastation at the loss we have suffered following the tragic events of Sunday evening and would like to pay individual tributes to each of our much-loved family members whom we have lost.
Susan was a much-loved sister, who was adored by both family and friends. She was particularly close to her sisters and loved spending time with them. She was so caring and all that mattered to her was her family. We are shocked and shattered by what's happened. Susan loved her job in a local supermarket where she was held in high regard; she was very easy going and was always laughing and joking."
Alison Turnbull (Aged 44)
Tribute to Alison:
"Alison was a fantastic mother, sister and partner who was always there for her family and friends when we needed her. She was a fantastic mam to her son Bobby and daughter Tanya, always so caring and loving. Alison worked locally in Peterlee and loved nothing more than spending time with her family and loved ones.
We are destroyed by the loss of Alison and struggling to come to terms with her death."
Tanya Turnbull (Aged 22)
Tribute to Tanya:
"Tanya was the most amazing daughter, partner and sister you could ever wish for. She was a popular, funny and a gorgeous girl with her whole life ahead of her, and we idolised her. Tanya and her boyfriend Michael were in the process of preparing for their life together and had plans to buy their first home. It was an exciting time for Tanya and she was always smiling and happy.
This horrific loss is still sinking in and, as we are sure you can appreciate, we are devastated to lose Tanya in such tragic circumstances."
Gunman Michael Atherton (Aged 42)
Michael Atherton's parents Peter and Christine and his son Michael Junior, whose mother was victim Susan McGoldrick have also made statements.
Peter and Christine said:
"We and our whole family want to express our sympathies to the families of Susan, Alison and Tanya. Although we loved Michael we are sorry for his actions and don't understand why he did what he did. We dearly loved Susan as a daughter for over 20 years and are devastated by the loss."
Michael said on behalf of himself and his sister Laura:
"We are truly devastated. Me and my sister have lost the best mother in the world. We don't understand why my dad would do anything like this as he was such a good man. At the end of the day we have lost four loved family members and we hope they are all at peace now."