Polk students return to class after asst. principal, teacher murdered

A memorial outside Lake Gibson Middle School honors assistant principal Samara Routenberg and teacher Lisa Fuillerat.

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Students and staff returned to class Monday morning without two beloved Polk County educators who were murdered on Friday in Brandon.

Lisa Fuillerat, age 51, and Samara Routenberg, age 39, were both employees at Lake Gibson Middle School in Polk County. Routenberg was an assistant principal and Fuillerat was a math teacher.

Lisa Fuillerat and Samara Routenberg.
Lisa Fuillerat and Samara Routenberg.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office investigators tell us that Vincente Fuillerat, age 53, went to a Brandon home with the sole intent of killing his estranged wife and her girlfriend.

Surveillance cameras recorded his arrival. He was seen getting out of his car with a shotgun and walked around to the back porch.

Investigators say the women tried protecting themselves, but were overpowered by Vincent before he turned the gun on himself.

The deaths are a devastating loss for students and staff and Lake Gibson Middle School.

One by one, students and parents are coming by the school leaving flowers, paying their respects and remembering the great people these two women were.

“I don’t have a lot of words to express what’s going on in my head or the heads of our staff and teachers, but it’s a difficult time,” said Alain Douge, principal of Lake Gibson Middle School.

Disbelief—that’s the raw emotion everyone here is feeling.

“I was really shocked. Kind of like ‘wow,’” said student Kylie Pederson.

“Very shocking. My mom called me this weekend to tell me what happened and I thought it’s going to be a very hard week for the kids here,” said a Lake Gibson Middle School parent.

A memorial outside Lake Gibson Middle School honors assistant principal Samara Routenberg and teacher Lisa Fuillerat.
A memorial outside Lake Gibson Middle School honors assistant principal Samara Routenberg and teacher Lisa Fuillerat.

Many parents say you shouldn’t have to explain murder to a child.

“You have to explain things that you normally wouldn’t want to have to explain at this age. It’s been an interesting weekend.”

But, in the midst of all the loss, principal Alain Douge wants to remember what was important.

“Ms. Routenberg and Ms. Fuillerat, they were dedicated educators. They were accountable, very intelligent. They were loved by the staff and students every single day.”

That’s why every single day, parents and students alike will miss two influential educators that made a difference in the classroom.

“She was a really good person .She used to come to all the different classes and help out a lot. She was hands-on learning,” said Pederson.

“Very sweet and kind teachers. Great people that checked in on all people, always talked to them. It’s a shame.”

Vincent Fuillerat was already on probation for assaulting Routenberg in 2015. He was not allowed to have contact with the victim, or posses any weapons.

“When you leave, you are actually at a higher risk of more danger,” Janey Stratton, a Domestic Violence Advocate for Peace River Center said.

The tragedy shows how dangerous these situations can become.

“I always tell people, please speak. People need to know, so that they can keep an eye out for you. Your neighbors need to know, so they can keep an eye out; so they can dial 911,” Stratton said. “All you can do is just say ‘be careful.’ Keep an eye on your surroundings at all times, keep your doors locked at all times. I’m sure they did that. There’s no doubt my mind. They just didn’t make it,” Stratton said.

For more information on the Peace River Center Domestic Violence Shelter click here.


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