On the day Texas mom Christy Sheats fatally shot her two daughters, her husband thought she called a family meeting at their home on his 45th birthday to discuss his decision to file for divorce.
“This would be the last birthday that you are going to ruin,” Fort Bend County, Texas, Sheriff Troy Nehls tells PEOPLE exclusively, recalling what Jason Sheats told investigators he said to his wife in announcing his intention to leave her prior to the violent outburst last Friday.
Instead, with the family of four subsequently gathered in their Katy, Texas, living room, Christy Sheats, 42, produced a .38 caliber handgun that was inherited from her grandfather and opened fire on the couple’s two daughters, Taylor, 22, and Madison, 17.
“He felt she wanted him to suffer,” Nehls says of the girls’ father.
Both daughters died after fleeing out the front door with Jason Sheats. Police responding to 911 calls shot Christy Sheats dead when she refused to drop her weapon after the officers witnessed her last shot at Taylor and then approached them.
Jason Sheats told investigators his wife suffered from depression and anxiety, was taking several medications to cope with each, and previously had made three suicide attempts. He also told them that over the past four years as the couple struggled with marital problems, she’d been treated at three different private mental health facilities.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Jason said he’d been out of the house for part of last Friday with one of his daughters, but he had been in touch with Christy by text. He returned home to find Christy sitting in the backyard, where he “told Christy he would be filing for divorce,” Nehls tells PEOPLE.
Jason then walked to a another part of the home, but Christy announced that she wanted to call a family meeting, Nehls says. Jason thought it was to tell the girls about the divorce.
After they walked from a computer room to the living room and the family all sat on couches around the coffee table, she immediately pulled the weapon out and pointed it at Mr. Sheats and wanted to blame him, You made me do this,'” the sheriff says.
“Having all the opportunity to pull that trigger, she pointed that gun directly at Mr. Sheats,” Nehls says. When Jason was asked why he thought Christy didn’t shoot him, Jason told investigators “that he felt she wanted him to suffer,” because Christy knew how much he loved his daughters and how much they loved him.
“This was a way for her to accomplish what she set out to do,” the sheriff says.
“He’s very lucky to be alive.”