A murder turned shootout with deputies left two people dead in a quiet Pasco County, Florida neighborhood.
Sheriff Chris Nocco said the gunman, 30-year-old Brian Desario, suffers from mental illness and was stockpiling weapons and ammo.
Around 2:50 p.m. Thursday afternoon Nocco said Desario went into the garage of a home in Port Richey and accused one of his mom’s friends of hitting on his girlfriend. In the garage at the time of the shooting was Desario’s mom, her boyfriend, and another friend.
“The suspect, Brian Desario, believed that the moms friend; who is the victim in this case, was trying to pick up Brian’s girlfriend and hit on Brian’s girlfriend," Nocco said. “Please note, Brian does not have a girlfriend. In his mind he did. But, in reality he didn’t.”
Authorities later identified the murder victim as 56-year-old David Armstrong. The gunman also died.
After the shooting, Nocco said Desario walked out into the middle street and aimed his gun at Gulf Highlands Elementary school.
“Everyone in this organization made sure those kids came home alive,” Nocco said.
Nocco said the school was immediately locked down and no children were in danger thanks to the swift response of law enforcement.
“They are the heroes,” Nocco said.
Tampa-based WFTS spoke exclusively to George Kennedy, a grandfather on his way to pick up his grandfather when he drove right into the middle of the beginning of the gun battle.
“For one thing it was the first time my life flashed in front of my face,” Kennedy said. “I noticed two deputies in the street and they had their assault weapons out and I thought they were just walking down the street, so, I went to go around them. And that’s when they started to shoot at the house that was on the corner there and I just locked my brakes up and backed up and they told me to stay there…pretty scary.”
Kennedy said he is always early to pick up his granddaughter and if the shooting happened a few minutes later the street would've been “packed with children coming home from school.”
Nocco said federal authorities will investigate how, when and where Desario purchased the rifles and the ammunition drums used during the shootout that lasted nearly 10 minutes.