Police respond to "shots fired" and find family dead in murder-suicide


Editor’s note: This tragic incident is one of several like it that have surfaced recently. Although the exact details are not yet known, the mass violence it reflects needs to be noted.

As Chuck Remsberg said in a interview for a recent PoliceOne article on the impact the economy is having on training, “It’s important to remember that one of the most dangerous persons an officer can face is someone who feels they’ve got nothing to live for and nothing to lose. There are a growing number of those people and that’s a very real threat to officer safety and survival. Now, more than ever, officers need to be highly trained, highly focused and thoroughly prepared to deal with the threats and challenges of doing their jobs in a time of crisis.”

Stay alert, be trained—even if it means taking steps to seek your own training—and remember that even “regular people” who would otherwise seem harmless and unlikely to pose a deadly threat, like the man in this incident, may in fact be extremely dangerous.

— Scott Buhrmaster, PoliceOne Managing Editor


By Matt Sedensky
Associated Press

MIAMI — A 53-year-old man fatally shot his wife and two daughters Wednesday before turning the gun on himself, and a 16-year-old son who survived the attack managed to call 911 as he escaped uninjured from the Miami home, authorities said.


Medical examiners place one of four bodies inside a Medical Examiners van in Miami, after an early morning shooting Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009. A 53-year-old man fatally shot his wife and two daughters Wednesday before turning the gun on himself, and a 16-year-old son who survived the attack managed to call police on a cordless phone as he fled, police said. (AP Photo)
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Officers went to the home in southern Miami-Dade County just before 6 a.m. to investigate reports of shots being fired. The two daughters were 11 and 12, and their mother was 45, according to a news release. It wasn't immediately clear what led to the killings and police would not confirm the family members' identities. Officers found a gun but didn't say what type or how many shots were believed fired.

Sarit Betancourt, a 44-year-old school bus driver who lives near the family, said the father is a Cuban immigrant who gave piano lessons at a guitar shop and at his home. Betancourt's two sons, ages 9 and 10, had been taking piano lessons from him once a week since 2006.

"He was a marvelous person and a tremendous professor," she said. "People would enter the house, and you just breathed peace."

Neighbors on the quiet street of modest single-family homes said there was nothing that particularly stood out about the family. Some remembered the father waving hello. Others remembered children playing in the family's in-ground pool and music emanating from the home.

Soraya Peer said she has lived next to the family for five years and had seen "nothing negative come out of that home before."

Betancourt said there are four children in the family and all excelled at piano and performed together at church and home as Los Galileos. Authorities have not confirmed that there is a fourth sibling.

Christina Ruiz, a 23-year-old social work student who lives next to the family, described the father as a "regular dad" who helped her grandmother jump-start her car several times but who was known to complain when he was bothered by noise

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