LAKELAND — Authorities said the suspect in a Lakeland triple homicide died Tuesday afternoon from an apparent self-inflicted wound after he was tracked to a Tennessee motel room and confronted by a SWAT team.
David Eugene Smith, 27, identified himself as the man wanted in connection with the shooting deaths of two women and a man over the weekend, Knox County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Eddie Biggs told the Knoxville News Sentinel. He called 911, saying he wanted to die at the hands of law enforcement.
His Knoxville motel room was surrounded by deputies. After gas canisters were tossed into the room, he came out with what appeared to be a self-inflicted chest wound, officials said.
He later died from his injuries in a hospital, the Polk County Sheriff's Office announced.
Polk sheriff's spokeswoman Donna Wood said one of the victims was Smith's sister, 31-year-old Danyala Smith. The other two victims were 25-year-old Nikosi Williams and 28-year-old Miranda Mims. Authorities were investigating the relationship between the three victims.
Deputies started searching for David Smith after the bodies were found Monday inside a house at 5601 Old Highway 37 in South Lakeland, where Smith lived, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
A 14-year-old George Jenkins High School student, who also lived at the house, was returning home from an ROTC trip at about 9 a.m. when she found her mom, another woman and a man dead inside, deputies said.
Smith's family told deputies he had been in the Army, had post traumatic stress disorder and was not taking medication.
Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said Smith was delusional and paranoid. Facebook posts showed him referring to himself as "Prince David" and wanting to rid his planet of evil, Judd said.
At the murder scene, children stared as deputies escorted them around yellow crime scene tape to an elementary school a few blocks away.
The Ledger of Lakeland contributed to this report.