RIVERVIEW, Fla. (AP) — A 64-year-old Florida man who said caring for his terminally ill wife and stepdaughter had become overwhelming fatally shot the women and then called 911 before killing himself, authorities said.
Thomas Schultz told the dispatcher on Wednesday morning that the family was “in an impossible situation with no way out,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
The man asked the dispatcher to send someone to “secure the residence,” the sheriff said.
“As she tries to even engage in conversation, he says, ‘I have to go, I’m fixing to shoot myself,’” Chronister said.
Deputies arrived moments later and found Shultz dead on the back porch, with a revolver next to him, the sheriff said. The body of his wife, Joy, was in one bedroom. The stepdaughter, who was in her 50s, was in a hospital bed with a feeding tube in another room.
Family members told investigators that both women had terminal illnesses, the sheriff said.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that Wednesday’s deaths were at least the ninth suspected murder-suicide involving people from the Tampa Bay area so far this year.
Troy Quinn, who lived next door to the family in the Tampa suburb Riverview, told the Times that Schultz had recently shared a bit about being a caretaker to both women.
”He was saying it’s kind of stressful, kind of getting overwhelming,” Quinn said. “I said, ‘I’m here for you if you ever need to talk, and if there’s anything I can do, let me know.’ He said he would.”
Quinn said he woke up Wednesday morning and saw deputies at his neighbor’s home.
“I was numb. It’s heartbreaking to me and my wife,” Quinn told the newspaper, “It just doesn’t seem real.”
He said Schultz was retired from the Air Force and loved working in the yard of the ranch style home.
On Tuesday evening, Quinn said he pulled into his driveway and waved at Schultz. He told the Times that “something on my heart” told him to go talk to his neighbor, but by the time he got out of his car, Schultz had driven away.
”I’ve been thinking about that all day,” Quinn said.
In his news conference, the sheriff noted that May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
“There is no such thing as ‘an impossible situation’ with no way out,” Chronister said. “There is always hope, there is always help. It’s OK not to be OK; it’s just not OK not to ask for help.”