TAMPA, Fla. — Fighting back tears in a Tuesday morning briefing, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said a man shot his two children while they were going to sleep in their bunk beds Monday night.
Chronister said the shooting happened at the Armature Gate Townhomes just after 10:30 p.m.
The children's mother had just kissed the children goodnight and was in a nearby bathroom when she heard gunfire. She ran outside where a neighbor was already speaking with 911.
30-year-old Jermaine Lavanda Bass met first responders outside minutes later, cradling a boy's body, claiming he had accidentally shot his 8-year-old son.
Investigators went to the kids' bedroom after asking if there was anyone else inside and found another child, a 5-year-old girl, with multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
The children were rushed to Tampa General Hospital. The 5-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The 8-year-old boy remains in critical condition after surgery.
"This is a case that is not only tragic but extremely disturbing," Sheriff Chronister said. "You don't accidentally shoot your children three to four times in the head."
Bass was arrested and charged with premeditated first-degree murder, premeditated attempted murder, and aggravated child abuse.
Jermaine Lavanda Bass has been charged with murder in the first degree, attempt of murder in the first degree, and aggravated child abuse. pic.twitter.com/VHQGozNYUL— HCSO (@HCSOSheriff) August 30, 2022
Chronister said the situation is something no parent should have to live through and something no first responder should have to witness.
"We as a sheriff's office are struggling today," Chronister said. He added that the sheriff's office is going to bring counselors in for the deputies who responded to the scene to "try to get them through this."
Chronister said authorities continue to talk with the mother.
He also said there were no previous calls for service at the home, and Bass has no previous criminal history.
Scripps sister station WFTS and Fox affiliate WTVT in Tampa contributed to this report.