ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Police are investigating an apparent murder-suicide at an apartment complex in northern St. Petersburg.
Police said they found a father, 44-year-old Kevin Bybee, and his child 9-year-old Andres Chateau, dead in the father's apartment. Based on the initial investigation, detectives say it seems the father shot his son before turning the gun on himself.
Officers were dispatched around 9:45 a.m. for a welfare check at the Trellis at the Lakes Apartment Complex on Dr. MLK Jr. St. N. They were told to check up on a father and his young son.
The child's mother had come to pick him up after spending the weekend with his father. When no one came to the door and she couldn't reach her estranged husband by phone, she called police. However, officers were not able to forcibly enter the apartment without a "legal reason."
The mother later asked property management to open the door to the unit. Inside, she and property management found both the father and son dead from gunshot wounds before police arrived.
"This is just a very sad situation where you have a type of custody dispute between the parents. They have been having issues and so unfortunately, it looks like the father decided to take her son's life and then kill himself," said Yolanda Fernandez, St. Petersburg Police Public Information Officer.
In addition to a custody battle, court documents show the apartment complex was evicting Bybee.
A neighbor said he heard gunshots near his apartment, but he assumed it wasn't this close.
"I didn't think it was over here, but around 11 o'clock last night I heard gunshots," Nicholas Wieland said. "You know, hearing about what happened is devastating. Especially 30 feet from my house, where I stay."
In a message to residents on Tuesday, the property management team said it was working closely with law enforcement officers, who assured the apartment complex that this was "an isolated event" with no wider "safety concerns."
"Our condolences go out to the family impacted by this tragedy. We greatly appreciate your patience and sensitivity at this time," the property management team wrote in an email.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the school Chateau attended, Innovation Prep, said it was heartbroken by the news.
"He lit up every room he entered and will be missed terribly by his classmates and teachers. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We have provided grief counselors for students and staff," the statement read, in part.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). There is also a chat option. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story said police contacted property management to open the apartment. The police department issued a correction saying that the mother contacted management to open the apartment before officers arrived.