TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) —A Hillsborough County man allegedly shot his two young children in the head moments after their mother tucked them into bed, killing one and critically injuring the other.
Authorities said the 5-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy were shot at a home in the Armature Gate Townhomes, which is in the 13000 block of Heritage Club Drive, at about 10:30 p.m. on Monday.
According to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, the children’s mother had rushed home from a dinner to tuck them into bed. She gave them a kiss goodnight, then left them in the bedroom with their father, Jermaine Lavanda Bass, while she went to the restroom.
The mother heard several gunshots when she was in the restroom. She ran outside and found her neighbor on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. Chronister said she grabbed his phone to talk to the dispatcher, then Bass came out of their residence with their 8-year-old child, and told them to get help.
Deputies responded to the home and found Bass cradling the boy in his arms. He told them his gun went off, and he shot his son by accident.
When asked if anyone else was inside the home, Bass told them his 5-year-old daughter was asleep upstairs. When deputies went to her bedroom, they found the little girl laying on the top bunk in a pool of blood, Chronister said.
According to Chronister, both children had been shot in the head.
“You don’t accidentally shoot your children three to four times in the head,” the sheriff said.
Chronister said the children were rushed to Tampa General Hospital, where the 5-year-old was pronounced deceased and the 8-year-old is listed in critical condition.
“He [the 8-year-old] went to surgery last evening, and this morning, is fighting for his life as the wonderful, wonderful doctors and staff at Tampa General Hospital are doing everything they can to save this young boy’s life,” Chronister said. “This is a case that, and an experience that no parent should have to live through, and that no law enforcement officer or first responder should ever have to witness. We as a sheriff’s office are struggling today. Our detectives and deputies were on scene are going to need some help, and we’re bringing some counselors in to try to get them through this gruesome scene that they had to witness and detectives have to work through as they continue to put the pieces of the puzzle together here.”
Bass was arrested on charges of first-degree premeditated murder with a firearm, first-degree premeditated attempted murder with a firearm and aggravated child abuse.
Chronister said he had no criminal history.