The wife of a Florida sheriff’s deputy urgently texted her friend that her husband had “lost his mind” minutes before he fatally shot her before turning the gun on himself, according to multiple reports.
After the murder-suicide, the woman’s 14-year-old son, who had heard the couple argue before hearing gunfire, called 911.
“My mom was shot! My mom was shot!,” the boy’s voice is heard saying on the emergency call, reports Tampa TV news station WTVT.
The texts from 33-year-old Samantha Keithley, which were sent about 11:50 p.m. Sunday from the Land O’Lakes home she shared with her 39-year-old husband Kirk, a Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy, went unread by her friend Kristin Kellin until the next morning, reports The Tampa Bay Times.
Authorities say the murder-suicide occurred around midnight.
“Kirk has lost his mind Kristen,” Samantha texted to her friend prior to her death, Kellin told the Times and WTVT. “He’s literally losing it. He’s been harassing me for the last 6 hours and I’ve asked him repeatedly to just leave me alone because I’m sick.”
In a final message to Kellin, Samantha wrote, “I just chucked my ring outside.”
Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco confirmed the incident in a news conference Monday that was posted on the agency’s Facebook page.
Authorities who responded after receiving the 911 call from the 14-year-old who fled the family’s two-story home found a woman’s body on a first-floor couch, then located three other younger children upstairs, “safe, thank God,” Nocco said.
The shooting suspect was dead in another room, from what a preliminary investigation revealed to be a self-inflicted gunshot, he said.
The sheriff said police had not previously been called to the house for any trouble involving the couple.
“Just pray for these kids,” he said. “It’s Monday morning, there’s a lot of people waking up, getting ready to go to school, and there’s four children trying to put their shattered lives together and figure out what just happened to them overnight.”
He added: “It’s devastating what happened out here this morning.”
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Samantha was “just a very caring person,” her brother, Taylor Starling, told the Times. He said occasional arguments between the couple reflected “normal relationship type of stuff,” but did not otherwise hint at violence that would have prompted his sister to protect herself and her kids.
Samantha, he said, “was very smart, strong-willed and independent.”
Kirk “was a quiet guy, but he wasn’t irrational,” Kellin told the newspaper. “Everybody has problems, but not anything that would cause him to shoot her in the head.”
She said the couple, married for about six years, was a blended family with a 2- and 4-year-old of their own, a 7-year-old from Kirk’s prior relationship with another woman, and the 14-year-old from Samantha’s prior relationship with another man.
Sheriff Chad Chronister of Hillsborough County, which employed Kirk, said in a statement to media, “This is something that is impossible to comprehend for even the most seasoned person. Please keep them in your hearts as we all try to make our way through this tragedy.”
The statement added Kirk did not use his service revolver in the shootings.
His statement further said domestic violence “has no place in our society.”
“Domestic violence is a horrendous act that goes on in every community, and the moment that any individual goes from protecting people to harming people [he] loses the right no matter what agency they’re with to call [themselves] a law enforcement officer,” he said at his press conference.
“Once you stop protecting people, we don’t consider you a law enforcement official,” he said.
He added: “It’s devastating for that woman. It’s absolutely horrendous that she lost her life this way, but right now we gotta figure out how to help these kids. … Some would have been getting ready to do their normal routine with their mother, and it’s all gone.”
A GoFundMe page has been created to help support the children.