BELL — A grandfather, his daughter and six grandchildren, ages 3 months to 10 years old, died Thursday afternoon after a murder-suicide at the grandfather’s home in northern Gilchrist County, authorities said.
Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz identified the gunman as Don Charles Spirit, 51, and said the shootings occurred at Spirit’s home near 29th Terrace and 30th Street, northeast of Bell. He would not say if the woman killed was the mother of any of the children.
Spirit fatally shot his daughter, whom Schultz declined to identify, and six grandchildren, some of whom lived with Spirit at the home, the sheriff said at a news conference Thursday night at the Gilchrist emergency management center near Bell, a town of just 350 people about 30 miles west of Gainesville.
Schultz said there was no apparent motive for the shootings. The sheriff said deputies have responded to incidents at the home in the past.
Schultz said the sheriff’s office got a 911 call from Spirit at about 4 p.m. Thursday.
“When he called 911, (Spirit) said enough to alarm us to get someone there, and we needed to get there in a hurry,” Schultz said.
Schultz said Spirit made reference to harming others and himself in the 911 call.
A Gilchrist County deputy arrived at Spirit’s home, spoke with Spirit, who then fatally shot himself, Schultz said. Schultz said authorities then went through the home and found seven others fatally shot.
He said Spirit was the only suspect and some people were left alive at the home. Schultz also said Spirit had a criminal history.
Schultz said Spirit has a daughter other than the one he apparently shot Thursday.Schultz declined to identify the slain children because relatives hadn’t all been notified. He also would not say what weapon was used.
“There are certain things in life you can explain. And there are certain things you cannot explain. This is something I cannot explain,” Schultz told The Gainesville Sun.
— The Gainesville Sun contributed to this story.