Florida authorities described a gruesome scene at a home where a 12-year-old boy fatally shot his younger brother and wounded an older brother before turning the gun on himself early Wednesday evening.
The murder-suicide involving the children was so "brutal," Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said Thursday, that the responding deputies themselves are emotionally scarred.
"It was a horrific scene out there," the sheriff said at a news conference. The wounded 16-year-old — identified as Trevor Pimental — was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Nocco said.
"You have a 16-year-old who just saw something absolutely horrific, a living nightmare," Nocco said. He added: "He's grieving right now."
Investigators believe the shooting occurred after an argument while the two older boys were cooking at around 6:19 p.m. ET at the family's mobile home in Hudson, north of Tampa.
Trevor — along with brothers Kevin, 12, and Brady, 6 — were the only ones home at the time, Nocco said. Their mother, Helen Campochiaro, was at work, and an 18-year-old brother was also out.
Trevor and Kevin were cooking when the argument occurred, Nocco said. Investigators at first believed the boys were eating dinner and there was "an argument over food" before the shootings, Nocco said.
"We still need to find out if there was an argument, what led for this to go on? What led to Kevin taking the steps that he did?" Nocco said.
Kevin then grabbed a handgun and fatally shot Brady and wounded Trevor before committing suicide, authorities said. Trevor was shot in the leg and was able to call police after the shooting.
Nocco did not say where the weapon was kept in the home or who owned it, and police are still investigating why the gun was apparently left unsecured.
Nocco said law enforcement had not been called to the home before, and the boy's mother worked two jobs and was doing everything right for the family.
"Everything we are being told about her suggests that she’s a hard working mother," Nocco said.
Investigators have been trying to get more answers from the family, but they have been "breaking down," police said.