Family of Four Found Shot Dead at Home in Apparent Murder-suicide

Parents both veteran police officers, children aged 3 and 1; police suspect father shot family, then himself.

A family of four was found dead in their Hod Hasharon apartment on Thursday morning, apparently after the father shot his wife and two small children and then turned the gun on himself.

The parents, Michael and Hila Fisher, were policemen. Colleagues of Michael Fisher, an officer in the Central District Police central crime unit, broke into the family home after the pair failed to report to work. They found the bodies of Michael, Hila and their 3-year-old son Yuval in the living room; all had been shot. The Fishers' 2-month-old daughter, Yarden, was found shot in her crib.

Police believe Michael, 29, shot first Hila, 30, a training officer in the Sharon District Police, while she was in the shower. She apparently dragged herself into the living room before collapsing. Michael then shot Yuval, who approached him after hearing the shots, and then went into the children's bedroom, where he shot Yarden. Detectives believe he then shot his family members again at close range, before shooting himself in the head in the living room.

Neighbors in the apartment building at 4 Ben Zvi Street said on Thursday that they had heard the shots around 7 A.M., but did not think anything was amiss.

"At a quarter to 7 we heard six or seven shots in succession, and then another three shortly after that. At first we thought someone in the building was renovating or that someone knocked something down or was drilling holes in a wall. We never imagined that someone in our building was shooting," a neighbor said.

She said that Wednesday night she heard shouting at the Fishers' apartment and window blinds being slammed, but did not think anything of it.

Michael Fisher, whom colleagues described as quiet, respected and "positive," was supposed to drive a fellow officer to work on Thursday morning. When he did not show up, the colleague called his commanders. Fisher did not answer their phone calls.

The Sharon District Police then sent a patrol car to the family home. The officers saw the Fishers' cars in the building parking lot, but no one answered the door.

At that point, detectives from Michael Fisher's unit were sent to investigate. They called Michael from outside the apartment, and heard his phone ringing inside. At that point they decided to break in.

The investigators entered via a patio shared with a next-door neighbor, and discovered the four bodies in pools of blood. The pistol that police believe was used to kill the family was next to Michael's body.

The detectives summoned Magen David Adom paramedics. Ilan Bentzky, who answered the call, said the shootings had occurred about two hours before the ambulance arrived.

"The sight was horrific, blood everywhere. The two adults and the two children were lifeless, with bullet wounds," Bentzky said. "One of our people couldn't take the sight and left."

Many officers from Michael's unit in Tel Aviv arrived and began investigating. Officers from the Sharon District also came, as did Hila's father, former Central District commander Yehuda Bachar.

"It's a sad day for the Israel Police," said Sharon District Commander Kobi Cohen, Hila Fisher's commander and Michael's former commander. "Twenty years on the force and I can't recall a day that was as hard for these officers as it was when we saw the scene."

Michael Fisher was the son of Ray Fisher, who had been chairman of the British Immigrants' Association. The elder Fisher committed suicide at age 59 last year, following an extended illness.

National Police Commissioner David Cohen, a former Central District chief, also came to the crime scene. The case was transfered to the Central Distric serious crimes unit due to Fisher's personal connection to the central crime unit, which otherwise would have handled the case.

Crime Scene Investigation officers collected evidence on the scene for several hours yesterday.

ZAKA volunteers took the bodies to the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv for autopsies.

"I've seen a lot of death in my life, but when I saw the baby in her crib and picked her up, a baby who wasn't old enough to say 'daddy,' it was one of the most difficult moments in my life," the head of the ZAKA team in Ramat Hasharon, Naftali Smoller, told Haaretz on Thursday. "I have a baby of my own who is exactly the same age, the same size, it is simply impossible to grasp," Smoller said.

Hila Fisher and her children will be buried at 12:30 P.M. today, at Hod Hasharon's Neve Hadar cemetery.