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Children found hiding after shots fired during domestic disturbance

Columbia County deputies charge 45-year-old man with aggravated assault, illegally firing a weapon, aggravated child abuse

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – Columbia County deputies said two children were placed in harm’s way when a domestic disturbance between a man and a woman escalated to gunfire.

Deputies called to a home on Sultan Loop on Saturday immediately took Kerry Norton, 45, into custody. According to the police report, when asked about the location of the woman and children they knew to be in the house, Norton told them they were not there and had been picked up by a friend. Deputies wrote they found a woman bleeding from an injury sustained from an assault was found in a bedroom and children were found hiding under a bed and inside a closet.

When the deputies asked Norton for the location of the woman and children they knew to be in the house, he reportedly told them there were not there and had been picked up by a friend. But according to the arrest report, deputies found a woman bleeding from an injury sustained in the assault was found in a bedroom. Children were found hiding under a bed and inside a closet.

When deputies spoke to the woman, she told them that no domestic violence took place but deputies got a different story from the children as well as a neighbor who heard the commotion and told News4Jax he and his wife called 911.

The children told deputies that Norton and the woman got into an argument over her not being home for Valentine’s Day. The children also told deputies the argument escalated when Norton pulled out a gun a fired it at the victim’s SUV tires in an attempt to keep her from leaving.

A nearby surveillance camera was not recording when the shots were fired but did start recording when a motion detector was alerted to movement. According to neighbors, the video shows Norton doing doughnuts in the front yard after the woman went back into the house.

The neighbor who spoke with deputies told them he then witnessed Norton drag the woman onto the front porch and could hear her screaming but never saw him hit her. The neighbor also told deputies he could hear gunshots.

“There were two gunshots. That’s when we got up from the couch and started looking outside," the neighbor, who did not wish to be identified, recounted.

Deputies found shell casings five yards from the SUV and they also found the gun inside the vehicle.

Upon further investigation, deputies determined the gun was also discharged in an area within close proximity of the mobile home, in an area within 5 feet of the room where the children were hiding. A deputy noted in the report that the close proximity for the gunfire in relation to the location of the children put the children in danger, and the Department of Children and Families was notified.

“The kids are well mannered. They’re very nice. Good kids -- never had any problems with the kids. I felt for their safety," the neighbor said Monday.

After Saturday’s incident, Norton was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, illegally firing a weapon and aggravated child abuse. One of the deputies noted in the report that he had knowledge about Norton because of previous 911 service calls to the same address.

By 12:30 p.m. Monday, Norton was released from jail after posting a $8,000 bond.

Booking photo of Kerry Norton
Booking photo of Kerry Norton (Columbia County Sheriff's Office)

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