Six grandchildren, daughter killed in Florida murder-suicide

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Story highlights

  • Mother of six children shot and killed inside residence was Sarah Spirit
  • Shooter calls 911, then shoots self after a deputy arrives
  • Sheriff identifies killer as 51-year-old Don Spirit
  • Don Spirit had spent time in prison, was released in 2006
A Florida man shot and killed his daughter and six grandchildren Thursday afternoon in the small north-central Florida town of Bell in what authorities called a murder-suicide.
Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz identified the shooter as Don Spirit, 51, and the daughter as Sarah Spirit, 28.
The sheriff told reporters the children -- three boys and three girls -- ranged in age from 3 months to 11 years.
The sheriff wouldn't disclose what kind of firearm was used.
Schultz said Don Spirit, who called 911 around 4 p.m., killed himself after a deputy arrived on the scene. The deputy found the bodies inside the home.
Deputies had previously responded to calls from the home, owned by Spirit, on "numerous" occasions, officials said. Spirit had a criminal history, Schultz said, without elaborating.
Don Spirit's mugshot from 2001
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The sheriff said the news would devastate the county, which has about 17,000 residents.
"We're all family here," he said.
In 2003, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Spirit was sentenced to three years in prison after he accidentally killed his son Kyle in a hunting accident two years prior. Spirit was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and pleaded guilty, the newspaper reported at the time.
Florida criminal records show Spirit was released from prison in February 2006.
Bell is about 30 miles west of Gainesville.