A woman who was in bed with her two young children was fatally shot early Tuesday during a home invasion that a Florida sheriff described as a “targeted” hit.
A man knocked on a door in New Port Richey, which is north of Tampa, sometime after 12:30 a.m., Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a news conference.
The knock awakened a woman who was sleeping on the couch in a front room, the sheriff said. As she got up, a masked man kicked the door in and pointed a gun at her, Nocco said.
The man continued on to a bedroom and flipped the light switch, Nocco said.
“The light comes on, she sees the suspect walk into the door,” he said. “She sits up. As she sits up she says, ‘Don’t shoot me.’ The suspect then fires one round at her. She falls off the bed. He fires another round directly at her striking her.”
The children, under the age of 12, were not injured in the shooting, he said.
The shooter fled the scene and investigators were searching for him.
Nocco said he didn’t yet know whether the shooting was domestic-related, but anyone involved in a relationship with the woman will be questioned, he said.
“Clearly this person was targeted,” Nocco said.
He said that mental health counselors are working with the two children and the woman.
“For these young kids, I can imagine they were out last night trick-or-treating and I can imagine they went to bed a little later, like all the kids did last night,” Nocco said. “But to be woken up, to have a suspect walk in turn that light on and shoot the person who was in the bed with them, that’s horrific. That’s the only word I can think of.”
In a news release, the sheriff’s office said “it appears that the suspect knew the layout of the home.”
The suspect is described as a man with a heavy build, around 5’10,” wearing dark clothing and a black skull-type mask.
New Port Richey is about 38 miles northwest of Tampa.
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