AP -- OXFORD, Mass. - A nine-year-old boy is fighting for his life after a weekend shooting in Massachusetts at the hands of his father, who police say also killed his seven-year-old daughter before committing suicide.

A hospital spokeswoman said Monday shooting victim Owen Benway was in critical condition.

Authorities said the children's father, Daryl Benway, 41, separated from his wife just weeks before opening fire Saturday at the family's home in Oxford, 100 kilometres south of Boston.

On Monday night, nearly 1,000 people attended a prayer vigil in Oxford, including friends and classmates of the children, the Worcester Gazette & Telegram reported.

Owen's sister, Abigail Benway, was to start second grade soon at Chaffee Elementary School. Schools officials are offering grief counselling.

The newspaper said the children's mother, Kelleen Benway, posted a message on her Facebook page Monday saying, "I want to thank all that keep Abby and Owen in their prayers. I am truly devastated without my little girl and hanging on to my son with all I am. Please continue to pray for Owen."

Friends and neighbours tell the Boston Globe that Daryl Benway recently lost his job and feared foreclosure.

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