Shady Hills elderly man and young neighbor clashed before one fatally shot

SHADY HILLS — One day after he was charged in the shooting death of his neighbor, 81-year-old John Croft was released from the Land O'Lakes jail on $50,000 bail and sent home.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office says "ongoing disputes" culminated Saturday with Croft pulling out a .22 caliber revolver and shooting Seth Sigmon, 29, three times.

Croft, of 17654 Connie Court, was charged with manslaughter. Why not murder?

"The suspect felt threatened by the victim, and from the evidence we had, we don't think it was premeditated," said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll. "They (the State Attorney's Office) can always change that charge by the time the case goes to trial."

Neighbors say trouble began brewing when Sigmon's pit bull got loose one day, went into Croft's yard and killed his three pet goats. A report was filed with the Sheriff's Office when Croft's goats were killed, but nothing in the paperwork indicates who owned the dog or dogs responsible.

Witnesses told the Sheriff's Office that Sigmon approached Croft about 1 p.m. Saturday at the property line between their houses, the report said. When Croft pulled out the gun, witnesses said, Sigmon asked if Croft was going to shoot him.

Then Croft fired once, according to the sheriff's report, causing Sigmon to fall to one knee. Croft fired at least two more times while Sigmon was on the ground, the report said, shooting the man in the chest and back.

Witnesses said after the shooting, Croft went back inside his home.

After his arrest, Croft told deputies he pulled the gun out of his left pocket and pointed it at Sigmon after his neighbor nudged him and cursed at him.

Croft told deputies he shot Sigmon because he was "angry and scared."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at (727) 992-5203 or cspencer@sptimes.com.

Shady Hills elderly man and young neighbor clashed before one fatally shot 04/27/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 8:13am]

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