SPRING HILL — William "Bill" Stelling was sitting in his living room watching television Tuesday morning when he heard a knock at the door.
Stelling, 66, walked to the foyer, using his cane. When he opened the door, his neighbor Thomas Brocato was there with a gun and started shooting through the closed storm door. Stelling fell to the floor, but was able to call 911. Brocato fled.
This account, given by Stelling to sheriff's deputies before he was flown by helicopter to a local trauma center, are among several new details about the incident released Thursday by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. They come two days after the shooting and the ensuing standoff that ended when SWAT members entered Brocato's house at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday and found the 58-year-old dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Brocato had doused himself in gasoline.
Investigators still haven't been able to answer a confounding question: Why did Brocato show up and start shooting his next-door neighbor on Siam Drive?
He may have taken the answer to his grave.
Stelling remained in critical but stable condition Thursday at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. He was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the abdomen. Detectives have not yet been able to interview him, so it's unclear if any words were exchanged before Brocato started shooting.
Neighbors said that Brocato was a surly, confrontational neighbor and that he and Stelling didn't get along. One neighbor, Matt McCabe, told the Times that the men got off to a rocky start when Brocato moved into his two-story house in 2004 and placed property markers on Stelling's lot.
Neighbors described Stelling as a pleasant widower who suffers from severe back pain.
There were two other new, and chilling, details about Tuesday's incident in Thursday's news release.
Brocato's entire house had been doused in gasoline, the Sheriff's Office reported.
Also, inside the house, investigators found 12 firearms — including three assault-style rifles — and as many as 12,000 rounds of ammunition.
Tony Marrero can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1431. Follow him on Twitter @tmarrerotimes.