Suicidal Twin Sisters Had Gun Training Before Fatal Day

Identities Officially Released Friday

More details are emerging about the Australian twins who attempted to carry out a suicide pact at a shooting range Monday.

They were officially identified Friday as Kristin A. Hermeler -- the twin who died -- and Candice K. Hermeler -- the twin who survived.

Each 29-year-old woman shot herself in the head with ammunition bought at Family Shooting Center, investigators said, with one twin using a rented .22-caliber revolver and the other a rented .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun.

According to a search warrant affidavit obtained by 7NEWS, the first person to sound the alarm after the shooting was a 15-year-old boy in the shooting stall next to the twins. He saw them fall, but it didn't register with him because he was so surprised. He called for help when he saw one of them rolling on the ground.

The first sheriff's deputy arriving at the shooting range saw a range officer performing chest compressions on one of the twins in stall No. 13. The second woman was sitting on her feet but was unresponsive, according to the affidavit.

The deputy asked the woman if she was hurt but she didn't respond. She then fell toward her sister. The deputy rolled the woman over and that's when he saw "a gunshot wound to the center of her forehead" and blood in her hair.

Kristin died at the range in Englewood; Candice is recovering from a serious head wound.

"Members of the Arapahoe County SheriffÂ’s Office Investigation Service Area have now met with the surviving sister, who has confirmed that they had planned to commit suicide together, and did in fact shoot themselves," the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office said.

Arapahoe County sheriff's Capt. Louie Perea said the surviving twin was upset and defensive while they were interviewing her, but she was cooperating with investigators.

The sisters from Australia came to the U.S. on cultural exchange visas, with one sister arriving in the U.S. on Aug. 19 and the other on Sept. 7. One sister was due to return to Australia on Tuesday, the day after the shooting, Perea said.

One sister had gun training two weeks before the shooting, and both showed up at the range about a week later for additional gun training, Perea said.

A second cousin of the twins told the Denver Post that after graduating from college in Australia, where they both obtained double degrees, the sisters both started traveling the world.

Jacky Sole of Washington state told the newspaper that the twins had made several trips to the United States and Canada, traveling independently at times, but always reconnecting with one another.

Both women typically worked in the States while they were here, and one had a background that included employment as an au pair, said Sole.

They were not married and had no other sisters or brothers, she said.

The women's parents flew into Denver International Airport Friday and went straight to Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, where the surviving twin is recovering.

"Ernest and Kelsay Hermeler released a statement through the hospital that said, "Our family would like to say thank you for the outpouring of support and concern shown during this past week. This is an extremely difficult time for our family. We would especially like to thank the Arapahoe County SheriffÂ’s office for their diligence and perseverance in determining the facts and circumstances of this situation. We are also grateful to the paramedics who responded and assisted our daughters. We ask that you understand and respect our need for privacy at this time."

Perea said no suicide note has been found and a search of the twins' luggage at the La Quinta Inn nearby revealed nothing about what happened. There was no apparent indication of a dispute between the sisters, or any indication they were shot by somebody else.

Authorities said the sisters were in the same lane at the shooting range and had at least two small-caliber pistols in their stall --pistols that they had rented from the range. Shooters at the range line up behind a wooden wall and shoot at targets through an opening that resembles a window.

Surveillance video at the range captured the sisters falling out of the stall about a half-second apart, with patrons quickly reacting, Perea said.

At least two shots were fired, Perea said.

Investigators initially had difficulty determining which sister died because they look so much alike.

Authorities worked with the Australian consulate in Los Angeles to obtain fingerprints or dental records to positively identify the two. Perea said the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had also been contacted because the two submitted fingerprints for their visas.

Cultural visas are issued for up to 16 months for a range of purposes from travel to working as an au pair, said Tim Counts of U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Holders must be sponsored by an organization and be involved in some activity that involves their culture or language, he said.

There were suicides at the shooting range in 2003 and 2009.