A pregnant woman and her unborn child were killed after a man shot them, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
According to a news release, the suspect, a 26-year-old man, shot the 21-year-old victim several times before shooting and committing suicide.
Sheriff Grady Judd said the woman was eight months pregnant.
Investigators said the shooting happened just after 7 p.m. Friday near their home on Central Avenue West in Winter Haven, in front of witnesses.
Deputies said at this stage of the investigation it was a family-related double murder-suicide.
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The suspect, identified as Riley Groover, has previously been charged with aggravated assault and domestic violence, the sheriff’s office said.
Several neighbors said they saw all this happen.
Next-door neighbor Eunice Selph said she heard Groover yell at his pregnant girlfriend, “I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill you.”
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Those were the last words Selph said he had heard before, deputies said, Groover shot his pregnant girlfriend multiple times and then himself.
Witnesses, including Selph, said they saw the 21-year-old running outside to get away from Groover when he pointed the gun at her.
“I couldn’t get it out of my head. I’m just not used to something like this,” Selph said.
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Court documents show this isn’t the first time Groover has committed domestic violence.
In 2014, deputies said Groover “openly stated that he wantonly and maliciously fired five BB pellets through someone’s window”.
According to the documents, “Groover also admitted for over a year that he repeatedly harassed the victim via text messages and phone calls after the victim asked him to stop.”
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According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, at that time Groover was charged with stalking, assault and battery, and shooting at that house.
Two years later, deputies arrested him again for domestic violence after he broke a bottle on the kitchen floor. Documents reveal Groover used a hatchet to smash through several doors inside a home, leading a 75-year-old family member to fear for his life.
This victim called 911.
Documents show the victim “began swinging a broomstick at Groover in self-defense. According to deputies, Groover dropped the gun and grabbed the victim’s right upper arm “and scratched her.”
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In a 2018 incident, Groover was also accused of arguing with another family member over household chores and shutting down the family Wi-Fi router.
In this case, a witness said Groover drove his car into the victim’s front yard and nearly hit her before exiting armed with a knife.
The victim told deputies that Groover chased her into the bedroom and stabbed her in the stomach.
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During Friday night’s horrific incident, family members told investigators that Groover and the woman had previously had physical arguments. But none of the incidents were reported to law enforcement.
The sheriff’s office said first responders and hospital medical staff tried to save the unborn baby, but were unable to do so.
“This is a violent and horrific double murder that ended the life of a 21-year-old eight-month-old pregnant woman and her unborn baby,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “When the suspect became furious, her family members and neighbors did everything they could to help her get away from him. Please keep this family in your prayers.
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