Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Palm Harbor boy, 12, accidentally shot, detectives think

PALM HARBOR — Police tape blocked the street and surrounded a neighbor's house when Karina King arrived home Friday afternoon.

After getting out of her car, King learned that Jacob Larson, the 12-year-old boy who lived two houses down from her, had been shot in the head.

She began to cry.

"I cannot believe this is happening," King said. "He's a nice boy. He comes over and rides the scooter and bikes with my children all the time. I don't get this."

According to authorities, Jacob's stepfather, Joseph Newman, found him with a gunshot wound after arriving home from work and quickly called 911. Palm Harbor firefighters and Pinellas County sheriff's deputies reached the home at 435 Laughing Gull Lane about 11:20 a.m., and Jacob was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

He later was transferred to All Children's Hospital, where his condition was not known.

Detectives are investigating the shooting as accidental. During their search of the home, they found a small-caliber handgun, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said.

Barreda declined to provide further details about who owned the gun or circumstances of the shooting.

Judi Byrne, who lives next door to Jacob and his parents, said she and her husband were home much of the morning but neither heard a gunshot. They realized something was wrong when fire trucks converged on the area.

"I saw them taking someone out on a stretcher, but I couldn't see who it was," Byrne said. "I can't believe it was Jacob. He always seemed like such a sweet little guy."

Neighbors described Jacob as a quiet, friendly boy who was seen regularly taking out the trash, mowing the lawn and playing with the family dogs.

"I'm completely shocked," said neighbor Cody Malander, 17.

At Palm Harbor Middle School, where Jacob is a student, assistant principal Donald Comeau said administrators were aware of the situation and "preparing for an effect on our campus."

Authorities began removing their police tape at the home at 2:35 p.m. A blue Toyota SUV remained parked partially on the sidewalk across the street. Neighbors said it belonged to Tracy Newman, Jacob's mother.

A photo of Jacob hung from the rearview mirror.

The keys were still in the ignition.

Keith Niebuhr can be reached at or (727) 445-4156.

Palm Harbor boy, 12, accidentally shot, detectives think 04/17/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 17, 2009 10:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Photo of the Day for August 17, 2017 - 'Keeping a watchful eye'

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from George Capaz of Wesley Chapel, FL. The photo was taken at a small roadside lake at Bruce B. Downs Blvd and Cross Creek Blvd.

  2. Jerseys worn by Tim Tebow fans commemorate the various phases of his athletic career


    His fans have come out in droves during Tim Tebow Week in Tampa Bay, more than doubling the average in Clearwater and Tampa Bay. And they've come adorned with jerseys commemorating the many phases of Tebow's …

    Charles Bottoms, right, with his wife, Annie, wore the Tim Tebow Broncos jersey to Steinbrenner Field "only because I didn't want to wear my good (signed Gators) Tebow one." [RYAN ROMANO | Times]
  3. Security threat leads Florida to cancel prison visitation


    TALLAHASSEE — Prison officials in Florida cited a security threat in canceling visitation at all of its 149 facilities.

  4. Steve Bannon says rivals 'wetting themselves,' calls supremacists 'clowns,' seems to contradict Trump on North Korea


    Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist, seemed to take issue with President Donald Trump on North Korea, attacked white supremacists as "clowns" and "losers" and described his efforts against administration rivals in an unusual interview Wednesday with the American Prospect, a progressive magazine.

    White House chief strategist Steve Bannon steps off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in April. In an unusual interview Wednesday with The American Prospect, a progressive magazine, Bannon attacked white supremacists as "clowns" and "losers" and described his efforts against administration rivals saying "They're wetting themselves." [Associated Press]
  5. Why are so few Tampa Bay houses for sale? They're being rented

    Real Estate

    Oreste Mesa Jr. owns a modest 40-year-old house in West Tampa just off MacDill Avenue. It's an area where many homeowners are hearing the siren song of builders and cashing out while the market is strong.

    Attorney David Eaton poses in front of his rental home at 899 72nd Ave. North. in St. Petersburg. He's among a growing number of property owners who see more value in renting out unused homes than selling them. 
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]