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TEAM COVERAGE: "I thought I heard what was an exhaust": Murder-suicide shocks Cape Coral neighborhood

"I thought I heard what was an exhaust"; says witness of the deadly child custody exchange
Posted at 10:04 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-20 22:21:40-04

It started as a quiet morning in a Southeast Cape Coral neighborhood near Viscaya Parkway and Del Prado until the unthinkable happened.

"I thought I heard what was an exhaust from a vehicle backfire or motorcycle," said Phil Brownson, a witness and retired Navy veteran.

Phil Brownson said he had just pulled into his cousins' driveway when he heard the gunshots and then saw the horrific scene.

He says just a bit later, police officers and others in the house off of SE 12th Street began chest compressions on a woman right in front of his eyes.

"My initial thought was holy, you know, does he need help?" said Brownson.

The Cape Coral Police Department says they received calls just before 9:30 Wednesday morning from multiple callers sharing the graphic scene they had just witnessed.

Officers say a man was picking up his two children when he shot and killed a woman then took off with their kids.

Police say he then pulled over to speak with firefighters, left the kids with those first responders, and drove down the street.

"Officers and firefighters also tried to talk to him there, figure out what was going on, and during the interaction that's when he shot himself and the car rolled into the canal," said Mercedes Phillips, Cape Coral Police Department spokesperson.

Neighbors Fox 4 spoke to say they heard that gunshot. They say their thoughts tonight are with the children involved.

"The first thing my neighbors and I said we feel for the kids more than everybody else," said Hal Franke, who lives on SE 12th Terrace.

The CCPD says the kids are now in extended family care.