1200 Weimer Hall | P.O. Box 118405
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-5551

A service of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

© 2024 WUFT / Division of Media Properties
News and Public Media for North Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Gov. Scott Speaks in Response to Bell Shooting

Gov. Rick Scott spoke in response to the Bell shootings on Friday. He said his prayers are with the family members and the community.
Gov. Rick Scott spoke in response to the Bell shootings on Friday. He said his prayers are with the family members and the community.

UPDATE, Sept. 19:  Gov. Rick Scott spoke in response to the Bell shooting today around 1 p.m. at the Gilchrist County Emergency Operations Center.

"You just don't know what goes through the suspect's mind when this happens," he said.

Scott commended the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office. “The sheriff has said he has the resources he needs,” Scott said, “but right now what we have to do is pray for this family.”

Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Shultz appeared alongside Scott. “We have a motto for the sheriffs office,” Schultz said. “We are one team, one mission. And our mission today is to make sure that our children and the victims’ families are taken care of.”

According the 2012 U.S. Census, the town of Bell has a population of about 450. In a press conference Thursday, Shultz expressed how hard this tragedy would be on such a small community.

"Everybody knows everybody," Scott said. "But they have been to the schools. They have been talking to the other students. We are going to do anything we can. We are going to have to help this community get back on its feet."

An earlier version of this post ran under the headline "Gilchrist Sheriff Confirms 8 Dead in Bell Shooting, Including 6 Children."

ORIGINAL POST, Sept. 18: Sheriff Shultz has confirmed the names of the victims in the Bell shooting. Sarah Lorraine Spirit, 28, Alanna Stewart, 3 months, Brandon Stewart, 4, Destiny Stewart, 5, Johnathon Kuhlmann, 8, Kylie Kuhlmann, 9, and Kaleb Kuhlmann, 11, were shot and killed by the children's grandfather Don Charles Spirit.

"Whoever hears the sounds of my voice, keep this community in their prayers," Shultz said. "Tomorrow is going to be a hard day for a lot of children in Gilchrist County. We will get past this, but tomorrow is going to be a hard day."

Don Spirit, Sarah Spirit's father, committed suicide after contacting authorities.

UPDATE: Sarah Lorraine Spirit, 28, was the mother of all six children: Alanna Stewart, 3 months; Brandon Stewart, 4; ; Destiny Stewart, 5; Johnathon Kuhlmann, 8; Kylie Kuhlmann, 9; and Kaleb Kuhlmann, 11.

UPDATE: Shultz is not prepared to discuss the firearm at this time.

"We may never know" what caused Spirit to commit these crimes.

He said all of the victims were on the property, but he is not able to say if they were all in the same part of the residence at the time of the shootings.

UPDATE: The victims have been identified.

UPDATE: The Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office will hold another press conference at 9:45 p.m. WUFT News reporters are on the scene. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz confirmed Don Charles Spirit shot and killed his daughter and her six children on Thursday in the town of Bell.

The names of the victims were not confirmed; however, the children's ages range from 3 months to 10. The shooting occurred near NW 30th St. and NW 39th Terrace. The shooter made the initial 911 call and gave enough information to "alarm" authorities.

Upon responding to the call, Gilchrist officers discovered "the shooting suspect was deceased." The victims were also dead.

Shultz said the shooter did have a criminal record, and authorities had been called to the residence on several occasions before the shooting, though none of these past incidents reflected violence at this level.

Bell has a population of about 450, according the 2012 U.S. Census.

UPDATE:  Shultz confirmed Don Charles Spirit, 51, was the shooter. Spirit shot himself after killing his daughter and her six children.

UPDATE: Shultz confirmed the shooter made reference to harming himself and others when he made the initial 911 call.

Don Spirit has been confirmed as the shooter.

UPDATE: Eight are dead in the town of Bell, including seven victims and the shooter.

The shooting occurred near NW 30th Street and NW 39th Terrace.

UPDATE: "This is not about the gentleman who did this," Shultz said. "This is about the children."

Shultz is not prepared to speak about the firearms found at the residence at this time.

UPDATE: Updates are being reported by Robert Schultz, the sheriff of Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office.

"What can you say?" he said. "This community will come together... We'll work through this."

UPDATE: The shooter did have a criminal history.

UPDATE: The sheriff confirmed authorities have been called out to the residence in the past. The shooter committed suicide after shooting the victims and making contact with first responders.

UPDATE: A grandfather shot his daughter and grandchildren, ages 3 months to 10.

UPDATE: The call came in around 4 p.m. today.

UPDATE: The Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office received a call about a shooting at a private residence. Eight victims were found, including six children.

ORIGINAL POST: The Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office has confirmed it will be holding a press conference beginning at 8 p.m. This is a developing story.

WUFT News will be updating as information comes in.

 WUFT reporters Virginia Hamrick and Stephanie Matarazzo reported from the press conference. Erica A. Hernandez contributed to this report.

Katie is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.