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Police are searching for a man who broke into a home on Halloween night and murdered one of the occupants.
A woman sleeping on the sofa in the living room of an apartment at Sunny Dale Villas — a county-owned affordable housing complex — in New Port Richey, Florida heard a knock on the door around 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 1, according to a press release from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and Tampa Fox Affiliate WTVT. When she called out, authorities said, a man wearing a skull mask kicked the door clear off the hinges and pointed a gun at her.
Police say the unidentified man then, without turning on any lights, walked into the apartment's bedroom, where a woman and two children were sleeping. There, he flipped on the light and pointed a gun at the woman who sat up in the bed.
"She said, 'Don't shoot me,'" Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco told reporters at an early morning press conference.
The suspect responded by shooting her once, at which point she fell off the bed. He then shot her as she lay on the floor and walked out of the apartment.
Investigators believe he fled the scene in a car, but they don't have a description.
The woman who was shot was pronounced dead at the hospital. Neither the kids nor the woman sleeping on the sofa were injured. Police did not clarify the relationship between the women and the children.
"For these young kids, I can imagine they were out last night trick-or-treating," he said. "But to be woken up, to have a suspect walk in, turn that light on and shoot the person in the bed with them, it’s horrific. It’s the only word I can think of."
Investigators do not believe it was a random shooting.
"It appears the suspect knew the layout of this house, he directly targeted the individual," Nocco said at the press conference, according to Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA. "It seems like he knew exactly who he was going for, and he fled the scene."
Police refused to confirm whether the murder was the result of domestic violence.
"Everyone can believe could this be a domestic relationship," Nocco explained, according to WTVT. "That’s one of the things we are investigating."
He asked anyone with information to come forward, and said the suspect is a 5'10" man with a heavy build. People with information to submit tips to the PSO Crime Tips Line at 1-800-706-2488 or report tips online at PascoSheriff.com/tips.
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