Florida felon kills his 6 grandchildren

Published 10:15 am Friday, September 19, 2014

BELL, Fla. — Authorities say a man with an extensive criminal record — he spent time in prison a decade ago after the shooting death of his young son — killed six of his grandchildren, his adult daughter and himself in a rampage Thursday at a home in a small Florida town outside of Gainesville.

Don Spirit, 51, called 911 Thursday afternoon from his home in the town of Bell to say that he might hurt himself or others. By the time a deputy arrived, Spirit had committed suicide, according to Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz.

The bodies of his daughter and her six children were found “all over the property,” Schultz late Thursday.

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Separately, during a news conference Friday, Schultz said Don Spirit was not a legal gun owner and wasn’t on probation at the time of the killings.

Official records showed that both Spirit and his daughter had arrest records.

Jail records show that his daughter, 28-year-old Sarah Lorraine Spirit, had been on probation for a 2013 grand theft arrest.

Don Spirit had a criminal record in Tampa, where he was arrested in 1990 on a felony fugitive warrant. Other arrests include misdemeanor battery, drug charges and depriving a child of food and shelter.

Schultz wouldn’t say if a weapon was recovered or what sort was used in the killings. He didn’t have a motive but said deputies had been to the home in the past for various reasons.

“There’s still a lot of unanswered questions. There’s going to be questions that we’re never going to get answered,” he said.