Chilling 911 call released in Florida family massacre: ‘They’re all dead’
Florida police released on Tuesday the tape from an emergency call placed last week by a 51-year-old felon in which he said he had just shot his daughter and her six children, adding that he planned to shoot himself when officers arrived.
“I just shot my daughter and shot all my grandkids and I’ll be sitting on my step and when you get here I’m going to shoot myself,” Don Spirit said calmly, adding that one of the children was a baby.
He grew tense when asked what type of gun he had used, demanding with profanities that authorities come to his house.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of gun. They’re all dead,” he said, telling the operator to send deputies. “All I’m doing is waiting for them.”
Authorities found the bodies of the children, ranging in age from 11 years to 3 months, inside the home in Bell, a small town in north Florida with fewer than 500 residents.
All died of shots from a .45 caliber handgun, state and local officials said in a statement.
Authorities found the weapon near Don Spirit, who along with his daughter, Sarah Spirit, 28, were found separately outside.
The children were identified as Kaleb Kuhlmann, 11, Kylie Kuhlmann, 9, Johnathon Kuhlmann, 8, Destiny Stewart, 5, Brandon Stewart, 4, and Alanna Stewart, 3 months.
The motive for the killings remains unknown, said the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. They are investigating how Spirit obtained the weapon as a convicted felon.
Long before the deaths, Florida authorities received repeated warnings about problems including violence in the Spirit household, the state child welfare agency said.
At the time of the killings, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) said it had an open investigation into drug abuse by the adults in the house, where Sarah Spirit had recently moved in with her children following an arrest.
The children’s mother, grandfather and other relatives were known to child welfare investigators from prior reports involving concerns such as domestic violence and child abuse.
Last year, Don Spirit reportedly hit one of his grandchildren with a belt, resulting in bruising, the agency said.
Don Spirit fatally shot his son in the head in a 2001 hunting accident, which resulted in his serving jail time following a guilty plea to possessing a firearm as a felon.
In 2008, Sarah Spirit asked for domestic violence protection from her father, telling the court that he had a violent temper and she was scared of him. But she did not show up for a hearing, and the petition was dismissed.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Additional reporting by Barbara Liston in Orlando; Editing by David Adams and Jim Loney)