TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A woman in Florida has died after a masked man broke into a Pasco County house and shot her in front of her two young children, authorities said.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office responded to a shooting at a home in New Port Richey at about 12:40 a.m. Tuesday.
A witness told police she was sleeping on the couch when she was awoken by a knock at the door. She said a man wearing a skull mask kicked in the door, entered the home and pointed a gun at her. The man then went into a bedroom, where another woman was sleeping with two young children and turned on the light.
“The light comes on, she sees the suspect walk into the door,” Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a press conference on Tuesday morning. “She sits up. As she sits up, she says, ‘Don’t shoot me.’ The suspect then fires one round at her. She falls off the bed. He fires another round directly at her, striking her.”
The children, under the age of 12, were not injured in the shooting, he said.
The suspect then ran outside, got into a car and fled the area, according to the sheriff.
Deputies and paramedics responded and rushed the victim to an area hospital, where she later died.
“It appears the suspect knew the layout of this house, he directly targeted the individual. It seems like he knew exactly who he was going for,” Nocco said.
Deputies didn’t yet know whether the shooting was related to a domestic dispute, but anyone involved in a relationship with the woman will be questioned, Nocco said.
“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 to have a suspect walk in, turn that light on and shoot the person in the bed with them, you know, it’s horrific,” the sheriff said. “That’s the only word I can think of.”
Authorities said the man remains at large. He is described as a male standing 5 feet, 10 inches with a large build. The witness said he was wearing dark clothing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.