GATEWAY, Fla. - We're learning more about 74 year-old Art Hohensee, the man accused of shooting at his family and deputies, setting his home on fire and taking his own life. Investigators confirmed Wednesday that Hohensee died of a self-inflicted gunshot. This frightening scene took place Wednesday afternoon on Lakeland Circle in the Silver Lakes community of Gateway.
Neighbors who knew Art as a person say they're in mourning. This is a man who would watch their pets and carry up their trash bins. One man even said Art was supposed to attend his daughter's dance recital in a couple days. While they don't condone his actions, they say what happened is not the Art they knew. "He was just a good neighbor, Rich McConahy said. "I think it's a terrible tragedy that we suffered here in the neighborhood."
McConahy knew Art and Bonnie Hohensee since he moved to Lakeland Circle in in 2008. "We'd work on the lawns together," McConahy said. "I enjoyed talking with him about anything and everything."
When he looks next-door now, "It's still very hard to grasp as far as reality," McConahy said. "I knew that Art and Bonnie were having problems but just never thought it would come to this."
Investigators say Wednesday, Art Hohensee sprayed bullets into the house and cars. You could see the bullet holes in the windshield and hood of one car as it was towed away. He then barricaded himself inside with his ex-wife and daughter and set the home on fire. The two women were able to escape when police arrived.
"This could have been prevented and I don't know what single thing would have done it, but something along the way," McConahy said.
Rich McConahy said Hohensee moved out about a year ago, but they still talked from time to time. Others who didn't want to speak on camera tell us the retired New York police officer was a helpful, kind-hearted grandfather to their kids and someone they could trust. They don't think his actions were motivated by a desire to hurt anyone but rather, a last attempt to hold onto material things lost through divorce.
"It's just a senseless tragedy," McConahy said. "Art, this one single incident is not Art. It's not."
Investigators spent the day piecing through what's left of the house, using metal detectors. There's still no official word yet on how exactly this fire was started.