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The apparent murder by police officer Michael Fisher of his family yesterday sent shock waves through the Police Central District. Fisher's colleagues could not comprehend what might have driven an outstanding officer to gun down his wife, also a police officer, and two children, and then kill himself.

"They were a lovely couple. They met in the police force, married three years ago and their second daughter was born only two months ago. Who could have suspected that anything so awful could happen?" a central unit officer said yesterday.

The news spread rapidly from one officer to another, and through the Central District. Fisher, their colleague in the central unit, was found shot in his Hod Hasharon home beside his wife and two children, aged three and two months respectively.

Fisher had not told his colleagues about any dispute he may have been involved in, or mentioned trouble with his wife. "He was one of the most amicable officers I knew. He made friends with other officers very quickly since he arrived eight months ago from the Sharon central unit, and was involved in several investigations during that time," an officer told Haaretz.

"Yesterday, too [a day before the murder], he was working as usual, in a good mood, and nothing about him indicated that something so horrific was about to happen," he said.

"They must have been on their way out when something happened," one of Fisher's colleagues added. Fisher and his wife were found fully dressed, and the boy was also dressed and ready to go to kindergarten. "He doesn't seem to have planned it in advance," he said.

No suicide note was found.

"Michael took his secret with him to the grave. None of us knows what happened there, and everyone is wondering what terrible thing took place between them that made him take his gun and shoot his wife and two children. What could it have been? A suddenly discovered infidelity? A fight about the children? We're trying to understand, to find a clue, but in vain," said an officer who worked with Fisher and knew him well.

"This is a sad day for the police," said Kobi Cohen, Sharon District Police chief. "Twenty years in the police and I can't remember ever feeling such pain," he said.

A neighbor of the couple told Haaretz that just before 7 A.M. she heard a noise resembling "the dismantling of a sukkah," and then a "metallic noise," but said she could not have imagined that these were sounds connected to murder.

"It is never easy to come to these terrible crime scenes and see bodies of people and children. But it's much worse when it's a friend. Good God, none of us can understand it," an officer said.

Officers who had worked with Fisher in the Ramle police station on the previous day were appalled to hear that he and his family were shot dead yesterday morning.

"We are first of all human beings, before being detectives or investigators, and this is a good friend of ours. So as accustomed as we may be to harsh spectacles - it's different when it's one of our own," one officer said.

"They were a beautiful couple, charming. I don't even know if they had celebrated their new baby's birth yet," a colleague of Fisher's said. "Only last night we had dinner at the central unit, laughing as usual. This was a man you only had to say 'hi' to and he'd smile as though he'd won the lottery."

The central unit detectives tried to reconstruct Fisher's last day in the police force, but found nothing that shed light on the tragedy.

Superintendent Michael Fisher entered his post in the central unit's youth department eight months ago, after transferring from the Sharon police. Two weeks ago he was promoted to investigation team chief in the unit's crime division - the division that recently investigated the murder of four-year-old Rose Pizem.

His wife, Hila, had recently completed an officer training course in the police school at Shfaram, and began serving as a training instructor in the Sharon district.

"He was working on light drug cases. He never dealt with serious crime cases," a colleague said.

"He was always in high spirits. Some people are introverted, weird, you don't really know them. But he was different, always laughing - a kind of a happy geek," he said.

In the next few days, the Central District's fraud squad detectives will have to question their colleagues in the central unit about Fisher, in search of some detail or information that could shed light on the incident.