Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Two die, one escapes in triple shooting in Citrus Park

Deputies said the victims of the shooting at 7420 Manhattan Drive in Citrus Park were all adult women.


Deputies said the victims of the shooting at 7420 Manhattan Drive in Citrus Park were all adult women.

TAMPA — Two women were killed and third escaped with injuries in a shooting Sunday morning at their Citrus Park home, authorities said.

Investigators said they weren't sure what led to the shooting — although they do not think it was random — and hadn't publicly identified any suspects.

All three of the women lived at the beige, single story rental house at 7420 Manhattan Drive just east of the Westfield Citrus Park mall.

Killed were Fern Giddings, 56, and Nell Mason, who would have turned 53 today. A third woman, Christina Soto, 35, was found bleeding on a bike trail that parallels Gunn Highway near the home after apparently fleeing her attacker.

The triple shooting was reported at 11:12 a.m. Sunday by someone who had stopped by for a visit. The person who discovered the victims ran across Gunn Highway to a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office district headquarters to report the attack.

Giddings was found dead inside the house and Mason was bleeding but alive, according to sheriff's Col. Donna Lusczynski. Mason was transported to a hospital where she later died.

Soto was found about a block away. She was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital where she was reported Sunday night as stable.

Brittany Kursch-Mellon, who lives a block from the crime scene on Mount Vernon Drive, said she was sitting at a picnic table in her back yard when she heard three loud pops.

She attributed the sound to a BB gun and didn't think anything of it. Then a few minutes later, she saw a woman drenched in blood walking along the bike trail that runs past her house.

"She was pretty much naked except for her underwear and she was covered in blood," Kursch-Mellon said. "Her whole chest was in blood and she was walking very sluggish, holding her neck."

A bicyclist who also saw the woman stopped and used his shirt to try to stop the bleeding, Kursch-Mellon said.

Emergency workers arrived moments later. Deputies cordoned off the neighborhood and asked residents to stay inside while they looked for a suspect. Helicopters droned overhead. Yellow tape was pulled across Manhattan at Gunn.

Neighbors described the home as a rental that changed tenants often. A call to the owner listed in Hillsborough property records went unanswered Sunday.

Several times in recent months deputies have been called to the home and to another rental property next door to handle disturbances, neighbors said.

Investigators said they were interviewing three individuals Sunday evening in connection with the shooting. So far, none has been labeled as a suspect.

Clayton Jobe of Tarpon Springs said he learned of the death of his older sister, Giddings, from a deputy who called his home in the early afternoon.

Giddings had three children, two of whom lived out of state, and four grandchildren, he said. She worked as a phlebotomist and previously lived in the neighborhood before moving into the house with the other women only a few weeks ago.

She was born in Georgia and grew up in San Antonio, Texas, he said. Her Facebook page says she had attended high school in Greencastle, Penn., and was widowed.

"She was a wonderful woman and would do anything for her children. She had a bright smile. She just lit up the room," he said. "I don't know who would have done this to her or why. This is heartbreaking."

Two die, one escapes in triple shooting in Citrus Park 05/05/13 [Last modified: Sunday, May 5, 2013 11:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.