Lakeland couple and their friend are being remembered fondly
Lakeland, Florida -- Sheriff Grady Judd from the Polk County Sheriff's Office says at 9 p.m. Monday night a 14-year-old girl came home to find her mother shot to death.
When deputies responded to the home at the corner of Old Highway 31 and Cherry Lane in Lakeland, they discovered the bodies of two more people but learned the girl's uncle, David Smith, was gone.
Sheriff Judd said deputies put out a bulletin to be on the lookout for 27-year-old Smith, who was considered a suspect in the murders.
At 9:44 a.m., Major Mike MacLean with the Knox County Sheriff's Office said Smith called 911 and identified himself as being wanted for murder. He also said he wanted to die, and wanted to commit suicide by police. By Tuesday morning around 11 a.m., Smith was tracked down to a Days Inn motel in Knoxville, Tennessee. He got into a standoff with the SWAT team. He could be seen firing out of the motel window and door. Knoxville deputies say he was later found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and was then rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
WBIR: Lakeland murder suspect, taken into custody in Tennessee, suffers apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. WBIR
Major Mike MacLean said, "It's a little unusual for a suspect to call in himself and give his location and he wants to commit suicide by police. It has happened before. Obviously, a very volatile situation someone that's predisposed for that kind of violence."
10 News has learned much more about the victims. Friends say they were very close. Two of them were in a relationship and the other was a dear friend. Those who knew them say the couple's home was a gathering spot and David Smith lived there with them.
Desiree Hall remembers meeting David and said, "He was friendly. He was sociable. I just can't believe that he flipped and did this."
Hall worked at Miriam South Car Wash in Lakeland and said she also knew Diamond Smith, who was a mother of three. Hall said, "A couple of weeks ago, we just had a barbecue at the their house and her brother was there. He was there. He was fine. There was a big group of people. He was friendly, sociable."
Ni'Kosi Williams, 25, was a close friend of the couple's. He was also shot to death. Ni'Kosi's father, Leroy Dempsey said, "My son has been a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Detectives believe it happened sometime between Saturday and Sunday evening.
David's family members say he served in the Army and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. Sheriff Grady Judd said his mother said he was deeply troubled and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.
Diamond's three children are without a mother and an uncle. Miranda's co-workers and friends are trying to come up a way to help raise money for the victim's families to help them pay for the cost of their funerals.