A 34-year-old Palatka man is being sought after police said he shot and killed another man and tried to shoot the mother of his children, all while eight children were in the home early Tuesday morning.
Police were called to 2428 Husson Ave. about 1:30 a.m. and found 34-year-old Raymond Perry, of Starke, dead of a gunshot wound.
Police said Kevin Daniels unlawfully gained entry into the home and shot Perry, then fired at Alzeta Esau, 30, of Palatka, but missed. Esau and the children, ranging from ages 2 to 10, were not hurt.
Esau and Daniels have been involved in a relationship and have children together, police said. They said Esau has an active domestic violence injunction against Daniels.
Daniels, who is known by local authorities, has 19 felony charges and five felony convictions. The felony convictions range from domestic battery to aggravated assault, various drug charges and felony fleeing and eluding.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was called to the scene to investigate.
A nationwide arrest warrant for Daniels has been issued on a charge of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated stalking, armed burglary and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Police said Daniels fled Palatka after the killing and was tracked to Brunswick, Ga. Authorities there tried to find and arrest him, but he was not located.
Daniels' family told Channel 4's Adrienne Moore that Daniels called them from Georgia around 6 p.m., saying he wanted to turn himself in.
“We just hope he turns himself in,” said Kristen Fuce, Daniels' sister. “We don’t want nothing to happen to him.”
But investigators said he hasn't turned up yet, and Palatka police said they'll exhaust every resource to bring in Daniels, who they consider armed and dangerous.
“We need to get him into custody as quickly as possible to ensure that one, he doesn’t hurt someone else, and two, he doesn’t hurt himself,” said Palatka Police Captain Matt Newcomb.
Investigators said they don't know why Daniels entered the home and shot Perry.
Daniels' family said he's battled mental health issues for more than a decade and has been on medication. They suggested his motive might have stemmed from his tumultuous relationship with Esau, who they said was his wife.
“She started calling Kevin, asking him for money,” said Daniels' uncle, Robert Mattson. “They started spending time at the motel. As a matter of fact, about a week ago they were staying at the motel, and she was telling Kevin she was not having an affair with the gentleman who was deceased.
“(Then) Kevin saw her, you know, with this guy,” Mattson added. “That’s what really ticked everything off, because she wasn’t even telling the guy that she was with Kevin.”
The family said four of the eight children who witnessed the shooting belonged to Esau and Daniels.
"This is a horrific experience for the children who witnessed this crime," Palatka Police Chief Gary Getchell said.
Investigators said the children are doing remarkably well, considering what’s they’ve seen. Over this next week, they’ll be bringing in a team of people who deal specifically with children to tackle the delicate work of interviewing them about what happened.
People who live in the home where it happened said their family and friends came Tuesday to help them clean up a pool of blood left behind after the killing.
Lakenya Williams was at the scene speaking to FDLE investigators and said that Perry was a friend of her sister, Esau. Williams said the man was shot in front of her sister's children, who were having a sleepover.
"I am very worried about my sister's safety because they haven't caught him yet. This happened in front of the kids," Williams said.
Williams said she has a hard time coping with the fact that her sister's friend was killed.
"We loved him. We've known him for a very long time," she said. "He was a good man, so I don't understand why he would do this to him."
"My heart hurts for my granddaughter and my daughter," said Alfred Esau, Alzeta's father. "I just couldn't understand how a person could come in a house and do what this victim did around children."
Members of the victim's family are working on funeral arrangements. Members of the Esau family said they'll help the victim's family any way they can.
Anyone with any information on Daniels' whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS (8477) or Detective Lt. Jason Shaw at 386-329-0115.