Arrest three months ago troubled man who shot himself in Pasco Kmart

David Harris Shafley was suffering.

At 52, his back was bad and he used a cane to walk. For years, he was forced to wear a colostomy bag, neighbors said.

His finances mirrored his health, and he took in boarders at his Port Richey home to help pay the rent. He would lament that he never seemed to get a good one, neighbors said.

Then came his arrest.

The episode three months ago seemed to some to speed an unraveling that culminated Saturday afternoon when authorities say Shafley killed himself inside a Kmart store in Hudson after being caught shoplifting.

On March 11, he had been charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest without violence. He was released from jail two days later after posting bail.

Neighbors say it actually was Shafley who had called authorities, to help with a tenant dispute at his San Moritz Drive home.

The arrest was a major blow, said neighbor Bill Naumann, 72.

"He couldn't understand why everything was happening to him," he said, recalling a recent conversation with him. "It seemed like nothing good would happen. He was in constant pain."

On Saturday, Shafley shot himself in the head after being caught shoplifting. The incident happened after 3 p.m. at the Kmart at 12412 U.S. 19, about a half-mile north of State Road 52.

Authorities said Shafley was brought to a loss-prevention office in the back of the store after being caught attempting to shoplift two packs of rechargeable batteries and bottles of soda, valued at $39.

While being questioned by two loss-prevention officers, Shafley pulled a .22-caliber handgun and fired it at the doorway, where the two Kmart employees were standing. It wasn't clear whether he was firing at them.

The two workers ran out of the room. Then Shafley shot himself in the head, authorities said.

Before shooting himself, Shafley told the employees he was distraught and having difficulty caring for an elderly relative.

A family member on Sunday declined to comment.

Port Richey police had arrested Shafley in July 2002 on a felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon. He pleaded guilty, was sentenced to two years of probation and adjudication was withheld, records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show.

Naumann, a neighbor of 12 years, said Shafley had been a good and helpful neighbor. He didn't bother anyone and was friendly. He was the kind of person who brought over food when a neighbor passed away.

Under the heading of employment, the state records list Shafley as disabled.

"He had quite a few problems in life, but he always tried to be helpful," Naumann said.

In a conversation a couple of weeks ago, however, he seemed very depressed.

Shafley told Naumann the arrest in March cost him at least $7,000. He said he didn't have the money. He didn't think the arrest was fair and didn't understand why it had happened.

Naumann and Shafley spoke of the Lord and the Bible. They went over a few verses. Naumann told him sites to go on the Internet to look things up.

Then they parted ways.

Saturday's news came as a shock.

"I don't think he wanted to go back to jail," he said.

Times news researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8804.

Arrest three months ago troubled man who shot himself in Pasco Kmart 06/19/11 [Last modified: Sunday, June 19, 2011 11:11pm]

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