A family has been torn apart after neighbors in a southeast Killeen neighborhood said numerous young children may have witnessed a double murder-suicide that occurred in broad daylight Sunday.
According to a news release from the Killeen Police Department, officers responded to the 5900 block of Cobalt Lane at 4:51 p.m. Sunday to find a 24-year-old woman lying in the driveway suffering from a gunshot wound. She was transported to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, where she died from her wounds about 6 p.m., the news release said.
After officers entered the home on Cobalt Lane, they found two additional victims: a 38-year-old man and 38-year-old woman, both dead, according to KPD’s news release.
In a second news release Monday morning, KPD confirmed the deaths resulted from a double murder-suicide.
“Detectives learned that there was a domestic disturbance occurring when the male produced a handgun and shot his wife,” the news release stated. “The other female, the wife’s sister, was fleeing the residence when the male shot her. The male then returned inside the residence and shot himself. There were others inside the residence, but there were no other injuries.”
The Herald spoke with numerous neighbors who said the couple had lived in the home on Cobalt Lane for about a year.
“When he first moved in, I thought he was a little strange,” said Carolyn Harris, who lives across the street.
She said the 38-year-old man had come to her home and invited them to Bible study.
“Nothing’s ever happened like this out here,” Harris said of the quiet, upper-middle class neighborhood. “Nothing ever.”
As movers shuffled in and out of his brick home, Zach Volz said he and his fiance were finally getting moved in after about a month living there and were frightened when they saw police moving in moments after the shooting.
“We really couldn’t see anything other than the officers moving toward the house,” Volz said. “By the time we got out to our driveway, we saw one lady laying in the driveway.”
After police secured the scene, Volz said officers began removing several children from the home.
“They brought the toddlers out,” Volz said. “The toddlers were inside the house. I think it was about three (of them). It was really random. We’ve only lived here for about a month and haven’t gotten the chance to get to know anybody yet.”
first shots heard
Directly across the street from the home, Katrina Kelley said she was alarmed when she heard the first of two shots.
“It was about 4 (p.m.),” Kelley said. “I was preparing dinner and I heard a loud pop. I thought maybe someone hit the garage, so I started to walk toward the window. Just as I was walking toward the window, I see a man and he has a gun in his hand. At that point, I hear another shot. I see kids scattering all over, like toddlers in between the ages of 1 and 2. They were scattering all around.”
As the woman lay dying in the driveway, Kelley said a small baby car seat sat next to her as the man walked casually back inside the home.
“After that, I see him fumbling with his gun walking into the house,” Kelley said. “It was a handgun, a pistol, with a really long barrel.”
Moments later, she said the man came out of the home and moved a silver SUV in a possible attempt to hide his crime from watching neighbors.
“He came out of the house because he relocated the car,” Kelley said. “She was in the middle of the driveway right there and he pulls out that silver SUV and he puts it in the middle of the driveway so you can’t really see the body because it was laying there and it was broad daylight.”
man was ‘so calm’
Kelley confirmed the man was nonchalant about shooting the woman, who may have been facing toward the home when she was shot.
“It was so calm,” Kelley said. “He did it in a way almost as if he went outside to kill a fly and go back in the house like nothing ever happened. He kind of fidgeted with his gun a little, but the way he turned back around and went in the house, it was just like it was something that never even happened.
“She was pointed in the direction toward the garage. ... She wasn’t pointed this way as if she was running away. I saw legs and she was pointed as if she was looking toward him.”
Kelley said there were at least four children at the home at the time of the shooting and the man had come to their home a few weeks before the incident.
“He actually came over about two weeks ago and was selling some type of energy program,” Kelley said. “He was attempting to run some sales with my husband and we had a meeting right here in my living room. He said, ‘I just bought my sister that van for $600. She just had a baby.’ She had a baby last week. I mean, it was literally less than a week ago that I saw her rushing out of the house, going to the emergency room to deliver her baby.”
After five years of homeownership in their usually quiet neighborhood, Kelley said her children want to move now and she doesn’t feel safe anymore.
“I feel very uneasy, especially when I have children,” she said. “My kids are always outside. They had actually just came inside the house right before this happened. So, I feel very uneasy.”
Moments after the shooting, Kelley said she witnessed police break the news of the deaths to the couple’s teenage son, who was at a friend’s house at the time of the shootings.
The visibly shaken Kelley said she’s still in disbelief.
“I am so distraught, especially because I saw this happen,” she said. “I saw a dead body and that’s the only thing playing in my head over and over again. I saw this guy.”
This marks the second murder-suicide this year in Killeen. In February, 30-year-old Spc. Ata-Se Giffa, of Clarkston, Ga., with 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, at Fort Hood, killed two people and critically wounded another woman at a home in the 1700 block of Godman Street, according to police.
He then forced his wife, 31-year-old Dawn Giffa, into their home on the same street, where he shot and killed her and then himself, police said.
Police have not released the names of Sunday’s victims pending notification of next of kin.