LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – The Lakeland community is coming together for four children after a Christmas Eve tragedy ended with three adults dead.
For the four kids caught in the middle of a tragic murder-suicide, Christmas Eve may never be the same.
Lakeland police officials said Leighton Josephs, 30, entered the house with a gun and shot a man and woman. He then turned the gun on himself. Four children, all under the age of 10, were inside the home during the shooting.
LPD used tactical measures and rescued all four children safely.
Police would only identify the victims as a 30-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man.
8 On Your Side spoke to relatives of the victims who say they are Racheal Ramsey and Christopher Pine. The Polk County Medical Examiner confirmed Ramsey and Pine, along with Leighton Josephs, will be autopsied Thursday.
8 On Your Side spoke to Ramsey’s uncle who said two of the four children were her kids. He said they are currently with their grandparents.
Being that Christmas may never be the same for those children, people in the community like William Dunn are stepping in to help.
Several Lakeland officers also collected and handed out gifts to the children on Christmas morning.
A mystery Santa also made an appearance, coming by one of the houses where some of the kids are staying with suit and sleigh to surprise with gifts.
“It touches my heart,” Dunn said. “I get a lot of people that give to me so I want to give back. The community really comes together on tragic stuff like this.”
Dunn helps children in need within Polk County through his organization Take a Kid Fishing. He works with local group homes, homeless shelters and families in need by taking them fishing.
“I deal with kids on an everyday basis that are in foster care and kids that are fatherless,” Dunn said. “I deal with a lot of their stories and this kind of related to some of their stories and that’s why I stepped in.”
Dunn is working with Dr. Joseph Davis, Executive Director of Anchor House, to make this all happen. Anchor House is a group home that houses boys who come from traumatic situations.
Together, Dunn and Davis are collecting toys, clothes and money. Those donations will go directly to the rescued children.
“We’re familiar with traumatic events, of course this is just horrible, but many of our boys come from those situations so we wanted to lend a helping hand,” Davis said.
People can drop off donations to Anchor House at 3000 KVille Avenue, Auburndale, FL 33823 until 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
LPD is still investigating the murder suicide.