Need help? If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, reach out to the 24–hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255; contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741; or chat with someone online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay can be reached by dialing 211 or by visiting crisiscenter.com.
This story contains mention of domestic violence. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233.
SPRING HILL — Early Friday morning, a woman received what Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies describe as a suicidal text from an acquaintance on Dunkirk Road.
The woman, whom officials are not naming, drove from Ocala to check on him. When she arrived, she found the home on fire and what police would later declare a murder-suicide.
Police on Saturday confirmed that Derick Albert Vasquez, 43, died by suicide after killing two children in the home at 9474 Dunkirk Road. Neither the names of the children, a boy and a girl, nor their relationship to Vasquez are being released under the department’s interpretation of Marsy’s Law, an amendment to the state Constitution designed to protect crime victims.
The first deputy on scene entered the home at 10:10 a.m. Friday but was forced to exit after becoming overwhelmed by the smoke, according to Hernando County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Michael Terry. After additional deputies and Hernando County Fire Rescue arrived, they located three bodies inside.
The fire was confined to one bedroom, a fire rescue division chief said Friday.
At a news conference Friday, Sheriff Al Nienhuis said the incident had “some domestic violence-type overtones.” Terry said police were called to the home March 22 regarding a verbal disturbance but declined to provide any other details about the active investigation.
Nancy MacAlpine, Vasquez’s next-door neighbor, said she arrived home Friday morning after an overnight shift to find a young woman crying and yelling outside.
As she moved to call 911, MacAlpine said she heard what the woman was saying: “He shot my kids.”
Police have not confirmed the victims’ manner of death. They said the surviving woman had been taken away from the scene for an interview.
MacAlpine said she did not know her neighbors well but that loud arguments had erupted several times in the past week from the home.
Staff writers Jack Evans and Luis Santana contributed to this report.