The four masked men stormed up to the house with purpose early Tuesday morning.
They walked in a single line, taking time to move a lawn chair in their way.
It took just two strong kicks to break down the door of the rust-colored single family home at 7014 Orpine Drive N.
"Police! Police! Police!" the group shouted, guns raised.
Once inside, authorities said, the robbers demanded cash and drugs from Richard Lamar Shaw, 41, and his adult son.
The robbers shot Shaw in the upper torso, police said. He died soon afterward at Northside Hospital. His son was unharmed.
It was the second tragedy the family had to face in as many weeks. Shaw's wife, Tory, mother of their two sons, died June 11 after a long battle with cancer.
Hours after the shooting, as family members arrived at the vacant home to collect the family's belongings, Shaw's brother, Kenneth, crouched behind a Ford Explorer parked in the street and wept.
"They were good people," he said. "My brother, in the last year, just struggled with his wife's cancer. Through it all my brother just took it in.
"He was a good father, and she was a good mother," he said. "That's all I want to say."
Police believe the robbers are also responsible for a similar home invasion that took place about 24 minutes earlier at 5800 First St. N, a couple of miles away.
In that case, police said, a group of armed and masked young men barged into the home about 4:20 a.m. yelling "police," and demanding money and jewelry.
They roughed up Gregg M. Gordon, 51, and took items from him before fleeing.
"There are enough similarities that we believe these are the same suspects," St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt said. "We don't believe these are random acts. It appears more like these victims were targeted."
In the Meadowlawn neighborhood where Shaw was killed, family friend and neighbor Timothy Bidwell paced near the scene Tuesday morning.
Crime tape kept him from getting too close to the house Shaw owned with his wife.
"It's not right," said Bidwell, 33, who said he'd known Shaw for nearly 20 years. Bidwell said his uncle was best friends with Shaw, and the two lived in the same neighborhood for years. "He didn't deserve this."
Shaw and his wife had been married 18 years.
"Rick was so strong about (his wife's illness)," Bidwell said. "It's just a shame. It's just a very sad situation."
Police did not have detailed descriptions of the robbers Tuesday afternoon but released a video of the break-in captured by a surveillance system.
Bidwell said people had tried to break into Shaw's home before, and Shaw bought a gun to protect his family.
Police said they'd been called to the home three times this year.
In March, Proffitt said, one of Shaw's sons reported that someone he'd had a dispute with drove by the home and pointed a gun. Officers also were called to the home June 11, the day Shaw's wife died.
On Friday, Shaw called police saying someone had egged his home.
Times researcher Carolyn Edds and staff writer Dan Sullivan contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8643.