Police report that a family of five in North Carolina was tortured with hot metal during a home invasion

A local sheriff is describing the theft and assault that happened to a family of five last weekend in North Carolina as an act of “pure torture.”

A family in western Harnett County was reportedly pushed inside their home by a gang of five guys on Saturday, June 15, at two in the AM local time, as they were sitting in their garage with the door open. The Harnett County Sheriff’s Office was mentioned by NBC outlet WRAL and CBS affiliate WNCN, which both said that the men had attacked the family and taken some of their possessions.

Sheriff Wayne Coats told WRAL that the five guys bound the family with duct tape and started torturing them, heating up metal by placing a “knife and fork on top of [their] stove” and “sticking it to the bodies” of the victims. Coats clarified that there were no firearms in the house, saying, “They were trying to get them to tell them where their money and guns were.”

According to WRAL, the males drove off in their own silver or gray Dodge Challenger after the suspects stole numerous personal goods, ransacked the house, abused the kids, and fled with two stolen cars.

According to WNCN, the family’s gray four-door Honda Accord is still missing.

When PEOPLE asked the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office for additional information on Sunday, June 23, they did not answer right away.

Since then, more than $13,000 of the $15,000 target has been raised for the family through a GoFundMe that was posted by WRAL and purportedly started by Mayra Morales-Scott, the sister of one of the fatalities. As stated by Morales-Scott in the description of the fundraiser website, “Words cannot describe the pain and devastation that our family is experiencing right now.”

“Masked intruders” attacked her sister, brother-in-law, and the “young children,” she said, adding that their “entire house was ransacked” and that they are currently “suffering physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

“Our extended family and close friends are devastated,” she said. “Their home was vandalized and their peace of mind and safety will never feel the same.”

According to Morales-Scott, the GoFundMe effort seeks to generate funds for her sister’s family’s additional needs, as well as to replace stolen goods and pay for medical expenses. “We are asking for your prayers, words of encouragement, your empathy and to please respect our family’s privacy during this difficult time,” she wrote in a letter.

After 16 years of living in the neighborhood, two doors down from the family, Jeffrey Miller told WRAL that he “thought nothing like that would ever happen.”

Miller remarked, “I’m so sorry for the family,” and mentioned that he had put security systems in place at his own house.

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