PASCO COUNTY, Fla. - Florida deputies are searching for a person who entered a home in New Port Richey and shot a woman to death as she was sleeping next to two young kids early Tuesday morning. The sheriff said it appears the suspect knew the layout of the house and was targeting the woman.
This happened around 12:40 a.m. in the Menifee Court area when a man broke into a home.
According to Pasco County deputies, the man pointed a gun at an adult witness in the home before moving on to a bedroom in which the victim was sleeping with two young children.
The suspect – who has not been identified – then flipped on the light switch inside the room. That's when the victim woke up and saw the suspect, who pointed the gun at her, Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
"She said, 'Don't shoot me,'" Nocco described, adding that the suspect fired one round at her.
View of crime scene at New Port Richey home where a deadly shooting occurred on Nov. 1, 2022.
The victim fell off the bed and the suspect fired another round at her, the sheriff said.
The suspect then ran from the home, where it was believed that he got into a car. The victim later died at a hospital.
The sheriff's office said this does not appear to be a random act.
"It appears that the suspect knew the layout of the home and who his intended victim was."
The suspect is described as a man with a heavy build, around 5’10", wearing dark clothing and a black skull-type mask.
The sheriff's office is helping with mental health counselors for the kids and the other adult that was in the house. Sheriff Chris Nocco called the crime a "horrific tragedy."
"For these young kids, I can imagine they were out last night trick-or treating. I can imagine they went to bed a little bit later like all the kids did last night. But to be woken up by this. To be woken up to have a suspect walk in, turn that light on and shoot the person in bed with them, it's horrific."
Both children were under 12 years old, the sheriff said.
Anyone with information is asked to submit tips to the PSO Crime Tips Line at 1-800-706-2488.