PINELLAS PARK — Two children who were left homeless after their distraught father was killed by police are awaiting a hearing to decide if they can live with their mother.
The circuit court hearing could be held today if their mother, Brenda Fecteau, arrives from her home in Maine. Until then, the boys, ages 8 and 13, will remain in the care of the state Department of Children and Families.
"Our heart goes out to these kids," said Terry Field, acting spokesman for DCF's Suncoast region. "Let's cross our fingers and hope the situation with the mother works out."
The two boys ran from their home in Shadow Run Apartments, 12001 Belcher Road, late Saturday night after their father, Dallas Carter, fired at least 30 rounds from a pistol and a .30-30 hunting rifle.
He reportedly begged police to kill him.
With the boys out of the apartment, Carter, 44, stepped into the breezeway with his guns pointed at police. He allegedly failed to obey officers' instructions to drop his weapons, and three of them fired at him and killed him.
Neighbors said Carter was upset because he lost his job after reinjuring his back and was unable to pay his bills. His food stamps had been cut back, he was unable to pay his water bill and he had just received an eviction notice.
The three officers — Michael Erwin, Adam Smotrich and Alexandro Aguilar — have been placed on administrative leave until a state attorney's investigation is complete, which is standard procedure in cases like this. Pinellas Park police refused to release a copy of a note that Carter left or the call to 911 until that investigation is finished.
Pinellas Park police spokesman Sandy Forseth said Fecteau called from her home in Maine and was headed to Florida on Monday to be with her children. The court will decide custody.
Field said he knows of no reason Fecteau would not get custody of her sons, but if the court refused to let her take them the department would look for another relative. If that failed, the department would try to find the best placement for the boys, which could be foster care or a group home.
Fecteau did not return a phone message asking for comment.