Child and man dead in suspected East Naples murder-suicide

Detectives are investigating the shooting deaths of a man and a child in East Naples on Monday as a probable murder-suicide.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office said they were called to a condominium on Sandpiper St. around 8:40 a.m. Bobbie Whittier said she would never forget the desperation she heard coming from the neighbor’s house before she called CCSO.

“We can’t get it out of our mind,” Whittier said. “I looked out the window and saw a woman on the ground and she was saying, ‘They killed my baby. My baby. They shot my baby. Oh, God. Oh God.'”

Detectives there said a 45-year-old man and a 5-year-old boy were dead in a probable murder-suicide. The identities of the victims are protected under the Florida statute known as Marsy’s Law.

“He was shaking so bad, he could not write,” Whittier said of a member of law enforcement there. “He said it was a ‘Terrible scene. Terrible scene.'”

We know the 5-year-old went to a daycare center, so attention is also being given to how adults will explain the loss of a friend to the victim’s peers. Children at Grace Lutheran Church must come to terms with their friends not returning to class.

“It’s tough for them to grasp the finality of loss and death when they are at the ages of four, five, six, seven,” said Natalie Gonzalez, the manager of supporter care at Avow Grief and Loss Program.

Gonzalez specializes in helping children deal with grief at Avow.

“We like to use our creative coping skills,” Gonzalez said.

They help children understand the loss by using music, art, and creativity. But it’s important for parents to know the signs of grieving.

“Check in on how they are physically feeling,” Gonzalez said. “Maybe, if they are having signs of headaches, or stomach aches, they are not sleeping, those can be signs of grief too.”

One big takeaway is open communication.

“For example, we like to tell parents to use the word died,” Gonzalez said. “It sounds like something we want to shield the kids from. But the truth is, if they hear grandpa is lost or mom is sleeping, then it puts fear and confusion into their minds.”

The pastor of the church spoke to us off camera and told us it’s a sad day, but they have not given any other comment currently.

For Forrest Ficke, who lives nearby, the commotion was not something he expected.

“To hear eight cop cars going by 7:30 in the morning doing 80 miles an hour down this road,” Ficke said, “it’s kind of a surprise.”

Right now, the neighborhood shows no signs of a crime. But the people living here are reeling.

“We have been talking about it all day,” Whittier said, “simply because we can’t get it out of her mind.”

Reporter:Nicole Gabe
Writer:Michael Mora
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