2 adults, 6 children killed in murder-suicide in Bell
BELL, Fla. – A 51-year-old man shot and killed his daughter and six grandchildren before killing himself in the small North Central Florida town of Bell on Thursday afternoon, according to Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz.
The six children -- 11-year-old Kaleb Kuhlmann, 9-year-old Kylie Kuhlmann, 8-year-old Johnathon Kuhlmann, 5-year-old Destiny Stewart, 4-year-old Brandon Stewart and 3-month-old Alanna Stewart -- and their mother, 28-year-old Sarah Lorraine Spirit, all died from apparent gunshot wounds, according to deputies.
Schultz said deputies received a 911 call from Don Charles Spirit around 4 p.m. in which he "made reference to harming people and himself."
"It was enough to alarm us to get there and that we needed to get there in a hurry," Schultz said.
A deputy responded to the residence, which belongs to Don Spirit, near NW 30th Street and NW 29th Terrace and made contact with Spirit. The deputy had a conversation with Spirit before Spirit committed suicide, but the details of that conversation have not been released.
Schultz said it's likely all seven other victims were dead before authorities arrived.
"At this time we have no indication of what caused this man to do what he did, and we may never know," Schultz said. "There were certainly no signs or indications to us previously that something like this could or was going to happen."
Schultz asked for prayers for the small community as it deals with the tragedy.
"This community will come together. We'll continue to be a family, and we'll work through this," Schultz said. "Tomorrow's going to be
a hard day for a lot of children in Gilchrist County. We're resilient. We have some good, top-notch individuals who work in this county and that live here. We will get past this, but tomorrow is going to be a hard day."
Schultz said deputies have been called to the residence before on multiple occasions and that Spirit does have a criminal history.
The Orlando Sentinel reported in 2003 that Spirit accidentally shot his 8-year-old son Kyle to death in a hunting accident in 2001. Spirit's other son Josh, who was 11 at the time, was also with him.
Spirit pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and was sentenced to three years in prison per the plea agreement. He faced a maximum term of 15 years.
Spirit was also previously convicted for felony possession of marijuana.
The Sentinel gave a description of what happened in the hunting accident, attributing the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.
On a walk through the woods with his son, Spirit pointed out rust on the muzzle of his high-powered Browning rifle. The rifle fired, hitting Kyle in the head.
The Sheriff's Office said Spirit drove miles through the dense woods with Kyle in the back of the truck, looking for help.
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