Land O’Lakes, FL – A Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy allegedly shot his wife to death before turning the gun on himself on Monday morning.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said the incident occurred at approximately 12 a.m. on Sept. 24 at the couple’s home on Terrazzo Way, WFTS reported.
Four children, who were in the residence with the shooting occurred, were uninjured, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a news conference, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
One of the children, a 14-year-old boy, fled the home and called 911 after he heard a loud argument and the sound of a gunshot, Sheriff Nocco said.
Deputies responded to the residence and found the body of 33-year-old Samantha Keithley lying on a couch with a gunshot wound.
Upstairs, they discovered 39-year-old Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Kirk Keithley dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, the sheriff said.
A preliminary investigation determined that the deputy fatally shot his wife before he committed suicide.
“It’s devastating what happened here this morning,” Sheriff Nocco said, according to WFTS. “The moment that any individual goes from protecting people to harming people, he loses the right no matter what agency they’re with to call themselves a law enforcement officer.”
Three other children inside the home were not physically injured.
“Just pray for these kids,” Sheriff Nocco said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s Monday morning, there’s a lot of people waking up, getting ready to go to school, and there’s four children trying to put their shattered lives together and figure out what just happened to them overnight.”
“It’s devastating what happened out here this morning,” he added.
Sheriff Nocco said the department had no previous calls at the residence, and said that it did not appear that Deputy Keithley used his duty weapon to carry out the fatal attack.
Samantha’s friend, Kristin Kellin, told the Tampa Bay Times that she received a series of disturbing text messages from Samantha shortly before the murder occurred.
“Kirk has lost his mind Kristin,” she said in one text, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s literally losing it. He’s been harassing me for the last 6 hours and I’ve asked him repeatedly to just leave me alone because I’m sick.”
Samantha then told her she had thrown her wedding ring outside, Kellin said.
Kellin described Samantha as an “amazing” wife, friend, and mother, and said the couple had been married for approximately six years.
According to Kellin, the couple have two children together – ages four and two – as well as Samantha’s 14-year-old son and Kirk’s 7-year-old child.
“[He] was a quiet guy, but he wasn’t irrational,” Kellin told the Tampa Bay Times. “Everybody has problems, but not anything that would cause him to shoot her in the head… I can’t believe he did this. She doesn’t deserve this.”
Sheriff Nocco said he notified the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office of the preliminary findings, Spectrum Bay News reported.
Deputy Keithley had worked for the agency since June of 2009, and previously served with the St. Petersburg Police Department for approximately six years.
“I can imagine the devastation they are going through right now,” Sheriff Nocco said. “But I think there is a transparency across all law enforcement. Once you stop protecting people, we don’t consider you a law enforcement officer.”
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister released a statement on Monday morning.
“I cannot begin to express how disheartened I am,” Sheriff Chronister said. “Domestic violence has no place in our society.”
“This is something that is impossible to comprehend for even the most seasoned person,” the sheriff continued. “I ask that everyone join me and the rest of our office and pray for those innocent children who are left behind and have to pick up the pieces.”
“Please keep them in your hearts as we all try to make our way through this tragedy,” he added.
According to WFTS, Deputy Keithley was reprimanded for misuse of communications facilities in 2016, and had a letter of counseling in 2011 after an avoidable traffic collision.