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2 brothers dead after argument

Police believe 4-hour Provo incident likely was a murder-suicide

Police get into position at residence where a man is believed to have slain his brother before turning a gun on himself.
Police get into position at residence where a man is believed to have slain his brother before turning a gun on himself.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

PROVO — An argument between two brothers turned violent Friday, resulting in an apparent murder-suicide that kept police guessing and neighbors out of their homes for about four hours.

Police found the bodies of Don Holladay, 50, and John Holladay, 52, shortly after 8 p.m. inside the Grandview home at 1556 W. 1170 North. Don Holladay lived in the basement of the home with his elderly parents, Jack and Jenny.

The reason John was at the home is unknown, as is the topic of the argument between the two brothers, Provo Police Capt. Rick Healey said.

The brothers' parents were in the home when the fight started and at the time of the shooting, Healey said. At some point during the argument, Don Holladay went to his residence in the basement, returned with a .357-caliber Magnum pistol and shot his older brother "two or three times," Healey said.

Jack and Jenny Holladay were able to get out of the house and into the safety of a neighbor's home, he said. Before leaving, the parents saw John Holladay "down and bleeding." The parents also told police that Don Holladay told them "he wouldn't come out alive," Healey said.

Police repeatedly telephoned the home in an effort to talk to Don Holladay, but the man never answered. A robot was brought to the scene in an effort to get a cell phone to the man, but that effort also failed.

"There was no contact with him at all," Healey said. "He didn't answer the phone."

Healey said family and neighbors indicated that Don Holladay was well-armed inside the house, making police hesitant to enter the home. In addition to the .357, police had reason to believe Don Holladay possessed a pair of assault rifles and a shotgun, Healey said.

About 7:45 p.m., gas rounds were fired through the windows of the home. When there was no response to the gas, a police dog was sent in. The dog later returned, and SWAT officers entered the home.

"During that entry, they did discover there were two bodies inside the home. Both of them had passed away," Healey said.

John Holladay's body was discovered upstairs; the body of Don Holladay was found in the basement, he said.

"It appears (Don Holladay) took his own life," Healey said. "At this point it looks like a murder-suicide. We do have our detectives doing an investigation. They'll do their very best to make sure we know how things happened, in what order and who was involved."

Police believe that both men were dead before officers arrived on the scene, Healey said.

Family members also indicated that Don Holladay had an illness, possibly terminal, he said.

Police evacuated six or seven homes near the Holladay house upon their arrival shortly after 4 p.m. Those neighbors were able to return to their homes just before 9 p.m.