A father shot his young children in the head multiple times after their mother kissed them goodnight, according to Florida police.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said in a Tuesday news conference that the two children, a girl aged 5 and an 8-year-old boy were shot inside their Tampa home.
Sheriff Chad Chronister told reporters: “This is not only a case that is tragic, but also extremely disturbing.”
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a database that collects information about shootings from across the U.S., 28 children aged between 0 to 11 have been fatally shot in Florida so far this year.
Chronister said the children’s mother kissed them goodnight as they lay in their bunk bed at about 10:30 p.m. on Monday.
Afterward, she left the children with the father and went to the bathroom where she heard several gunshots.
Chronister told reporters the mother at first thought the gunshots were coming from just outside the home, but later thought they were closer and ran out, finding a neighbor who had already called 911.
He added: “As that phone call’s occurring, the husband, the children’s father, walks outside carrying the 8-year-old son saying ‘call for help, call for help.'”
Initially, the father said he had “accidentally” shot his son, and firefighters soon treated the boy before he was taken to a nearby hospital.
When deputies arrived at the home, the father told them his daughter was still inside the house and was “sleeping.”
Chronister continued: “Deputies go upstairs, only to make the gruesome discovery that there is a 5-year-old laying on the top bunk, laying on a pool of her own blood. She is shot two to three times in her head. The same injury that the 8-year-old had sustained.”
Both children were rushed to Tampa General Hospital, where the 5-year-old was pronounced dead. The 8-year-old is undergoing treatment. An HCSO spokesperson told Newsweek Wednesday morning that the boy remains in critical condition.
“The wonderful staff at Tampa General Hospital are doing everything they can to save this young boy’s life,” Chronister said at Tuesday’s press conference.
He added the deputies on the scene were shocked by what they had witnessed and would require counseling.
Police said Jermaine Lavanda Bass, 30, has been arrested in connection with the shootings. He is facing charges of first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder and aggravated child abuse.
“I hope this individual feels the full weight of the criminal justice system and never sees the light of day again,” Chronister said.