Damien Little with wife Melissa and sons Koda and Hunter. South Australia Police

South Australian Police confirmed on Friday that the autopsies of Damien Little and his two kids revealed all three had suffered gunshot wounds, suggesting they were shot before the car was driven off a wharf at Port Lincoln on Monday.

The bodies of Little and his four-year-old son, Koda, and nine-month-old baby Hunter were discovered by SA police divers. The police had previously said that a rifle was also found in Little’s car.

A coronial investigation is now being carried out, and will include issues such as domestic violence and the mental health of Little in its report. The incident was previously described by police as a suspected murder-suicide.

Melissa, Little’s wife, released a statement on Friday saying the pain she was going through since the deaths cannot be explained in words.

“Damien was my childhood sweetheart who became my loving husband,” she said. “He was also a father who loved his two children very much. Damien valued and appreciated our close-knit family, he put us first, we were his whole world.”

She added that she will remember her “two precious boys” every day for the rest of her life, referring to her sons with fondness and describing Hunter as a happy baby, and Koda as a child with the biggest heart.

She also hoped her husband will be remembered as a respectable and valued member of the family and community.

Little killed himself and his two sons by driving his white station wagon off of Brennan’s Wharf at high speed, diving straight into the 30 metres of water. The incident has left the local community in shock. Mayor Brice Green described it as “one of the saddest days in our history.”

The ABC reported that the tribute in the form of flowers and teddy bears have been moved from the wharf to a nearby location.