Sheriff: KY man visiting Polk Co. kills nephew, shoots niece before turning gun on himself

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A man visiting Polk City from Kentucky killed his nephew and shot his niece Saturday night before turning the gun on himself, the sheriff said.

Deputies responded to 9511 Evans Road Saturday evening after reports of gunfire near a motorhome.

At a press conference Saturday evening, Sheriff Grady Judd shared more details regarding the incident, saying a Kentucky man was visiting relatives with his wife when an argument ensued over dinner.

When the couple, identified as Carolyn Stipe and Rickie Stipe, returned to his nephew’s home, they were still arguing.

When his nephew, identified as James Hanks, tried to diffuse the situation, the man pulled out a gun and fatally shot him.

When his niece, Kathleen Hanks, rushed to her husband’s aid, she was shot and injured. She was taken to Lakeland Regional Health. Her current condition is unknown.

Judd said after shooting his niece and nephew, the man stared at his wife, who he was arguing with originally, and fatally shot himself.

Carolyn Stipe was also transported to Lakeland Regional Health for chest pains.

She said her husband had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but refused to take his medication. She told detectives Rickie was upset with James earlier in the day and then became upset with her when they went out to dinner.

The sheriff’s office said no criminal history could be found for Rickie Stipe. He and his wife arrived in Florida in mid-November and planned to stay here until April of 2018.

“It’s sad. Anytime you have a murder, it breaks your heart, but here you have someone like this uncle, who was a guest, visiting from Kentucky,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

“He shoots and kills his nephew, and then as his niece runs to the aid of her husband, he shoots her too…then himself. And his wife sees all of this.  It’s just horrific”

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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