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Rampage leaves two women, deputy dead; two other women, suspected shooter critical

BROOKSVILLE — After killing two women and leaving two others fighting for their lives Thursday afternoon, John Kalisz slipped through a police dragnet, authorities said, and roared north out of Hernando County on U.S. 19.

By the time he was captured hours later, another person was dead — a Dixie County sheriff's captain.

Carrying two loaded shotguns, Kalisz told his brother in Clearwater by phone that he would kill as many deputies as possible, Hernando sheriff's officials said.

Dixie County deputies in two unmarked vehicles followed him on U.S. 19 out of Old Town and tried to pull him over, said Capt. Evan Sullivan of the Levy County Sheriff's Office.

Kalisz pulled into a BP station at the intersection of U.S. 19 and County Road 351 in Cross City, Sullivan said, and came out shooting, hitting Dixie County sheriff's Capt. Chad Reed in the face.

Reed, 33, died Thursday night at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, according to Sullivan, who said he had been asked by Dixie County Sheriff Dewey H. Hatcher Sr. to handle media requests.

After Reed was shot, fellow deputies shot Kalisz. He also was taken to Shands. His condition was not available late Thursday night.

"The good news is that he's been apprehended. The bad news is that we have an officer who has been shot,'' said Hernando County sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Donna Black. "We were very afraid that was going to happen.''

Reed, who formerly worked as the county's emergency management director, was married with two young children, said Kathy McKinney of the Dixie County Advocate newspaper. McKinney's brother-in-law is a major with the Dixie Sheriff's Office.

"It's so sad," she said.

Sullivan said Reed recently graduated from the FBI National Academy.

"Capt. Reed was a fine man, a great law enforcement officer and a hometown boy in Dixie County," Sullivan said.

Kalisz, 55, is alleged to have killed two women and seriously wounded two other women — a pregnant teenager and a home health care nurse — in a rural neighborhood north of Brooksville.

Hernando Sheriff Richard Nugent had few details on what led to the shootings other than that it was an apparent domestic dispute.

The dead women were identified as Kathryn Donovan, 61, of 15303 Wilhelm Road and Deborah Buckley Tillotson, 59, of 12282 Old Chatman Road, Brooksville.

Records show that Donovan was Kalisz's sister.

The injured women are Amy Wilson, 33, of 9539 Upland Drive, Hudson, and Manessa Donovan, 18, also of 15303 Wilhelm Road. She is the daughter of Kathryn Donovan.

Wilson and Manessa Donovan were flown by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital, where they were listed in stable condition late Thursday.

Sheriff's officials said Wilson and Tillotson were employees of Kathryn Donovan in a home-based fabrics business.

Amy Wilson's husband, Billy Green, 32, of Hudson, said his wife had just started working at the fabrics business two weeks ago.

Green said his wife told him she was standing outside the home Thursday afternoon when she heard gunshots. Then Kalisz emerged from the home and shot her. She fell to the ground, wounded in the abdomen and the shoulder.

"She was just working there. She didn't did have anything to do with him," Green said.

Green said he and Wilson have a 9-year-old son.

Deputies swarmed the area looking for Kalisz, who fled in a 1993 white Ford Aerostar van with Colorado tags. Despite sheriff's helicopters and ground units that had closed off neighborhood streets, Kalisz slipped away.

"He made a statement he was going to take out a deputy, and he obviously carried through with that," Nugent said as he stood a half-block from the small ranch home where the original shootings occurred. "It's a terrible day."

Christina Tucci, who lives a few doors down, was returning home on her Harley motorcycle when a white van — presumably driven by Kalisz — sped toward her from the opposite direction.

"He was weaving all over and nearly ran me off the road," she said. "He was totally out of control.''

Authorities tracked Kalisz through his cell phone as he traveled north on U.S. 19. They urged school district officials to put nearby Central High, West Hernando Middle and Pine Grove Elementary schools on lockdown.

Stunned neighbors watched as paramedics loaded the two wounded women into waiting ambulances. Investigators interviewed witnesses, who reported hearing the shots and screams.

Deputies, who at that point still weren't sure whether the gunman was still in the area, urged onlookers who weren't witnesses to go home and lock their doors.

Theresa McAllister, whose parents live nearby, shook her head as she walked away from the scene.

"Unbelievable," she said. "I never thought I'd see that in this neighborhood."

Residents described the area of modest homes on spacious lots as peaceful and quiet.

But Kathleen Miller, who lives next door to the home where the shootings occurred, said she grew concerned about a month ago when a woman ran from the house and started banging on her front door.

"She said she needed to call 911 because her boyfriend was scaring her," Miller said.

Miller said she thought the home was a rental property and other than the encounter with the frightened woman, she had not met the people who'd moved in several months ago.

According to court records, Kalisz was found guilty in 2009 of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is serving a sentence of five years on probation.

Kalisz was in the news earlier this week when he tried to swap out propane tanks at a mobile home at 138 Travel Park Drive and caused an explosion when he relit the stove's pilot light.

A police report said Kalisz and Erin Nagel, who was in the home, got out without injury. The fire was determined to be an accident.

Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell, news researchers Caryn Baird and Carolyn Edds and correspondent Steven Johnson contributed to this report.

Rampage leaves two women, deputy dead; two other women, suspected shooter critical 01/14/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 11:07am]
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