Officials said four children in Memphis have been fatally stabbed and their mother has been taken into custody.

Shelby County Sheriff's Office spokesman Earle Farrell said the stabbings occurred at an apartment complex Friday and deputies were at the scene.

The children were all under six years old, according to local reports. A call about the stabbings came through on 911 at around 1 p.m. Friday.

"What can you say?" said neighbor Sean Ahearn. "It's just a terrible, terrible thing."

Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham called the children's deaths, "A tragic scene that has shocked us to our core."

"I will never understand how anyone would do that," Oldham said, according to The Commercial Appeal newspaper.

Oldham told reporters the investigation is in a very preliminary stage and investigators do not know if the mother had any mental health issues.

The apartment where the stabbing occurred is in a gated community with a golf course called The Greens at Irene. On Friday afternoon, deputies were standing at the gate house questioning motorists as they tried to drive into the neighborhood.

Resident Patricia Johnson spoke with reporters from her car as she drove out of the neighborhood Friday afternoon. She said she wasn't allowed to leave for two hours as deputies investigated the scene.

She has a child, and said she burst into tears when she heard about the killings.

"I can't fathom that," she said. "What would babies do to make you do that?"

Oldham said the district attorney general's special victims' unit has been called in and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has promised all resources necessary for the investigation.

County Commissioner Mark Billingsley said he was wondering if the woman had mental health issues.

He said the county would work to help the family of the children recover.

"It's just a very sad day," he said. "It's really beyond words, quite frankly."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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