Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey mobile home park fire kills twin pre-schoolers


About two hours after her oldest children were off to school, neighbors found Shannon Garza in her back yard, spraying a garden hose into her blazing single-wide mobile home.

"My babies are inside!" she screamed again and again.

Neighbors pushed out a window and tried to yank out an air conditioning unit to get inside and save the 3-year-old twins, but the smoke and heat proved too much.

Neighbor Kristy Holt stuck her head through the window to look for Micah and Miah Shaver, "but I didn't hear anything," she said, "so that kind of made me think it was too late."

The fire ripped through the home. Flames were shooting through the windows when firefighters arrived. The roof paint blistered.

Firefighters knocked down the flames and went inside, where they found the two tiny bodies.

• • •

The fire started at 8:54 a.m. Monday, said Pasco County sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin. Shannon Garza and the fraternal twins were the only ones in the house at the time. Garza was taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point with burns on her arms. She was released later in the day. Officials have not said what caused the fire or exactly how the children died, but authorities are investigating.

Garza's, boyfriend, Lonnie Stafford, wasn't home, officials said. The other two children, Yolanda Garza, 13, and Joseph Garza, 12, were in seventh-grade classes at River Ridge Middle School. Their grandmother came to the school shortly after 11 a.m. to pick them up, said principal Jason Joens.

Friends and family gathered near the home at 10637 Wabayo St., blocked by a yellow strand of sheriff's tape late into Monday morning. News trucks kept vigil. Two fire trucks, two ambulances and a handful of police cars parked on the other side of the tape as the shell of the home continued to smolder.

Word of the twins' death spread quickly, through text message or whispers. Many at the scene collapsed into friends' arms or right where they stood, including the twins' biological father, Michael Shaver, who showed up and quickly fell to the ground behind an ambulance.

"It's a nightmare all over again," said Paulette Dorner, who remembered the sheriff's cars and ambulances from 2010 when a pit bull mauled a 7-day-old boy at 10548 Olson St., two streets over.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said in a news conference that a deputy was the first to arrive at the fire, but like neighbors, couldn't get inside.

Micah and Miah were hiding from the fire when they died, he said, but would not reveal where. Described as "inseparable," they were found apart.

He called the deputy's effort "valiant." He called the whole thing an "unspeakable tragedy."

Gary Mackey, Lonnie Stafford's brother, who lives next door to the scene, stood in his yard with a cup of coffee while forensic examiners combed through the blackened home a few yards away.

He remembered taking the four children for rides through mud holes in the back of his pickup truck. He said Yolanda was a "mini-mom" to the twins. She made them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, changed their diapers and warmed their bottles when they were babies. He said Micah and Miah (pronounced Maya) were sweet toddlers who kicked off their shoes and ran around barefoot whenever they could. They giggled and spoke little words and loved their kiddie pool.

"That's something you're never going to get back," he said, his voice breaking.

Mackey said he and his wife are setting up sites on Facebook and Craigslist so people can donate to the family. Mackey's wife, Laurie, said Dobies Funeral home has agreed to waive fees for the twins' funeral.

At River Ridge Middle, Joens said he plans to work with Red Cross to hold a fundraiser to sponsor the family for the holidays. He said he will try to contact the family later this week.

Other family members could not be reached for comment.

Garza's Facebook page has a photo of Micah and Miah across the top. They stand barefoot in front of a TV tuned to the Disney Channel. Micah wears a striped shirt. Miah wears a flowered dress.

They're smiling, holding hands, inseparable.

Times staff writer Erin Sullivan and researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Alex Orlando can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

Want to help?

To make a donation, contact

Gary Mackey at (727) 375-6142.

New Port Richey mobile home park fire kills twin pre-schoolers 11/12/12 [Last modified: Monday, November 12, 2012 10:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack


    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  2. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  3. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  4. Study: Pollution kills 9 million a year, costs $4.6 trillion


    NEW DELHI — Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

    New Delhi’s landmark India Gate, a war memorial, is engulfed in morning smog on Friday.
  5. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs


    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.