A long-running feud between two twin brothers apparently ended in a murder-suicide, a Montana sheriff tells PEOPLE.
“The two brothers have been fighting for about a year,” Carter County Sheriff Neil Kittelmann says. “Nobody thought it was serious.”
Travis Carlson, 39, of Canton, South Dakota, was shot and killed about 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 19 while the custom fence builder was at work on Tie Creek Road in rural Carter County, Montana, the sheriff says.
Two hired hands working with Travis witnessed a confrontation between Travis and his twin brother, Eric, 39, who also hails from Canton but owns a small ranch in the county, the sheriff says.
The workers did not witness the actual shooting “but [saw] the tail end of it,” Kittelmann says. “They just went to the house and got the landowners and they called me.”
An alert was quickly issued for Eric Carlson, who was found dead at his home the following morning of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a news release from the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.
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A spokesman for the department, Anastasia Burton, tells PEOPLE that authorities are investigating.
Says the sheriff: “We don’t know a reason for why that stuff happens. You don’t know that and I don’t know that.”
He surmised the twins’ simmering dispute involved a “brother-family-type thing,” he says. “Nothing serious to the rest of the world.”
Attempts by PEOPLE to contact other members of the Carlson family were unsuccessful. The two brothers were memorialized together at a service Sunday at Canton Lutheran Church.
“They’re identical twins,” the sheriff says. “I wouldn’t think the family would prefer to do it any other way.”