This is terribly sad. A Florida man shot and killed his wife and four of her seven children before killing himself. One of her sons survived the shooting, while he left his own children with the woman unharmed.
A jealous husband shot and killed his estranged wife and four of her children early this morning before fatally shooting himself in front of a city police officer, officials said.
Patrick Dell, 41, shot and wounded a fifth child, who remained this afternoon at a hospital, and left two children he fathered with 36-year-old Natasha Whyte-Dell unharmed. The surviving children were 1 and 3, police said.
As detectives investigated, Palm Beach County Schools officials were arranging for grief counselors at the slain childrens’ schools, said police spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown. She added that police believe Dell acted alone and are investigating the crime as a murder-suicide.
Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams, who went to the scene this morning, said: “This is a sad day for Riviera Beach. Many families have been tragically impacted by this unfortunate incident.”
One family member, Barbara Williams, said this morning that Dell had recently become jealous and believed his estranged wife was having an affair with a neighbor.
Williams said Whyte-Dell was enrolled in nursing school while trying to raise her kids.
“She was scared for her life,” Williams said. “I told her to be careful because he had just gotten a gun. He finally did what he said he was going to do.”
In a petition for a protective injunction filed in May, Whyte-Dell wrote that Dell had promised her “last days are going to be bitter” and that he had been heard around the neighborhood trying to buy a gun. She said he had been living in his car outside her house for a month, and that he had been acting increasingly violent. A judge gave her the injunction 10 days later.
In a 2008 petition for a protective injunction, Whyte wrote that Dell often was abusive, yelling and swearing at her to the point that her son, then 13, would try to intervene. “I had to get between him and my son,” she wrote. “I am really afraid for myself and my children. I do not know what my husband will do next.”
In an affidavit for Dell’s arrest last December, a Riviera Beach police officer described a violent confrontation between Dell and Whyte. Dell, who suspected Whyte of cheating, brandished a knife and charged Whyte-Dell and another woman outside a the woman’s house. The two women ran inside but could hear him screaming, “Your family is going to cry today,” according to the affidavit. “You will be going to the morgue.”
Using the knife, Dell carved an X on the driveway and slashed the tires on his wife’s Mercury Mountaineer.
Whyte-Dell told the officer that Dell was becoming more and more violent, and that she had always taken him back because she felt sorry for him. “This incident, she says, has put her in fear for her life and is the last straw.”
Elisa Cramer, spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Families, said this afternoon that the agency is now reviewing records of a a domestic violence investigation involving Dell that took place in January.
Cramer added that the investigation was closed in February, but could not comment on who filed the complaint or about the results of the investigation.
Williams said Dell did not have a good relationship with his step-children; and they would step between the couple when the two would fight.
“They were old-fashioned, moralized kids,” said Sharon Engram, a former neighbor who drove to the scene after receiving a phone call this morning. “They were humble kids, and a humble family.
“It’s got me so numb about it; because if you knew them, you would never have thought this would happen,” said Engram, who said her son attends school with the 15-year-old step-son – Ryan O. Barnett – who has so far survived a gunshot wound to the neck.
Police said this morning’s horrific scene unfolded shortly after 2 a.m., when a Riviera Beach police officer was on routine patrol and inspecting a suspicious vehicle at the corner of Avenue M and West 30th Street. As he inspected the car, he heard muffled gunshots and called for back-up.
Then, the officer saw a man leaving a home at 1225 W. 30th St. But when the man – later identified as Dell – saw the officer, he raised a hand gun and killed himself, Brown said.
When police entered the home, they found the children and Whyte-Dell dead inside. Fifteen-year-old Ryan was inside and also had been shot, but was still alive. He was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach to be treated.
The two children identified as the couple’s biological children are now in the care of relatives, Brown said.
The children who died are: 11-year-old Jevon Nelson and 10-year-old Daniel Barnett, who both attended Bethune Elementary School; 14-year-old Bryan Barnett, who attended Palm Beach Gardens High School; and 13 year-old Diane Barnett, who attended Howell Watkins Middle School.
Just crazy. Those poor innocent kids, and that woman robbed of life in such a senseless act of violence.