1. News
  2. /
  3. Pasco

'Hero’ neighbor shot, killed man accused of abusing family, Pasco sheriff says

The neighbor helped the children next door and tried to defuse the situation, says Sheriff Chris Nocco. Then he came under fire.
social card for breaking news in crime, for web only
Published Aug. 22
Updated Aug. 22

TRINITY — Two armed neighbors exchanged gunfire on Wednesday night, deputies said.

The surviving neighbor is being hailed for trying to help a family in distress. The other neighbor is accused of domestic violence just before he was shot and killed.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said the surviving neighbor was trying to help a family in distress before gunfire erupted.

“All indications here, he was a hero,” Nocco said.

The Sheriff’s Office received a report of gunshots at about 6:50 p.m. Neighbors said it took place on Crestridge Loop in the Trinity Preserve neighborhood.

Rick Sells wasn’t home at the time but his family said they heard at least eight gunshots erupt in the neighborhood, then saw about 20 sheriff’s vehicles lining the suburban street and learned what happened.

“I was shocked, hoping it’s not true," said Sells, 42.

The Sheriff’s Office said domestic violence led to the shooting, and gave this account:

A man physically abused a woman inside a home. The woman started screaming for help from inside. Then she started lowering a number of young children down from a second-floor window.

A neighbor who was mowing his grass nearby came over to help. The neighbor took the kids to safety.

Then the man came out of the house. The neighbor tried to calm him but the man “wasn’t having anything to do with it," Nocco said.

The neighbor returned to his property. Then the man took out a gun and started shooting at the neighbor.

But the neighbor who was mowing his grass was also armed. He fired back, fatally wounding the man.

The Sheriff’s Office has refused to identify any of the people involved, citing its interpretation of Marsy’s Law — a state constitutional amendment intended to protect crime victims.

Sells watched the sheriff’s livestreamed news conference on his phone. Then Sells said he knew the man who was killed. The family had three children. Sells first met them when he moved into the neighborhood four years ago. The man even helped Sells paint his house once.

Sells declined to name the man who was killed. When he got up for a run on Thursday, he saw a stain on the road by the man’s house. Neighbors hosed it off hours later.

“You never know what’s going on behind people’s doors,” Sells said.


  1. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning briefly blocked a critic from his social media accounts. He has since restored access to the person but says he would rather they have a conversation, “like two grown adults.” [Times (2016)]
    Kurt Browning restored his online nemesis as a Twitter follower and Facebook friend after staffers told him that blocking people was a no-no.
  2. Pasco Commissioner Mike Moore is questioning why the county helps fund the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council
    County Commissioner Mike Moore wonders what Pasco gets for its regional planning council dues. | C.T. Bowen
  3. Spectators peruse Beetles and buses at the 31st-annual Florida Bug Jam, held Nov. 9-10 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. Michele Miller
  4. Lithia Motors Inc. has acquired three dealerships from the Williams Automotive Group including Wesley Chapel Toyota near the Interstate 75 and State Road 54 interchange in Wesley Chapel. [Times (2007]
    Wesley Chapel Toyota, Wesley Chapel Honda and Tampa Honda dealerships change hands
  5. Left: A burned Ford Taurus, found near Key Vista Nature Park, pictured in the Pasco County Sheriff's Office's forensics building. Right: 21-year-old Michael Psilakis, of Hudson, is accused of killing the unidentified man whose body was found in the car. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    Michael Psilakis, of Hudson, faces first-degree murder and other charges. The victim has not been identified.
  6. Odessa Elementary School in Pasco County has grown to 1,126 students in fall 2020. Pasco County school district
    At 1,126 students, Odessa is larger than 10 of the district’s 16 middle schools, too.
  7. Members of the VFW Post 8154 honor guard stand at attention during the Veterans Day Remembrance service held Nov. 11 at Zephyr Park in Zephyrhills. Michele Miller
  8. Kasha, Squeeks, Baz and Marshall are up for adoption at Tampa Bay area shelters. Times
    Tampa Bay shelter pets available for adoption
  9. Republicans Dan Tipton, left, and Gary Bradford are seeking the District 4 Pasco County Commission seat expected to be vacated by Commissioner Mike Wells, who is running for Pasco County property appraiser. Tampa Bay Times/Pasco County
    The two Republicans have filed for the seat being vacated by Commissioner Mike Wells Jr.
  10. Pasco County community news TMCCARTY80  |  Tara McCarty
    Pasco County letters to to the editor