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. Neighbors had objected to the Lago Verde mine in north-central Pasco and then the adjoining Seven Diamonds LLC mine for the past seven years. The Seven Diamonds mine is now adding 60 additional acres to increase in size by one-fifth.
    The Seven Diamonds LLC mine is adding 60 acres, increasing in size by one-fifth.
  2. Suzanne Natzke, an artist and teacher with the Pasco Fine Arts Council, arranges her watercolor paintings for an upcoming exhibit, 'Moments in Time.' The exhibit will be held through Oct. 21 at the council's new gallery at Avalon Park West in Wesley Chapel. MICHELE MILLER  |  Michele Miller
    The countywide Council will exhibit work at the Avalon Park West community.
  3. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.
  4. Pedro Davila, 27, was arrested in Pasco County three weeks after he robbed a New York City jewelry store, authorities said. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    Pedro Davila was taken into custody on a rural stretch of roadway, three weeks after he and two others held up a store, authorities said.
  5. Mitchell High School junior Noah Denny addressed the New Port Richey City Council several times since February regarding his ideas for a plastic straw ban in the city. James Denny
  6. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    The board’s 2019-20 budget totals $1.39 billion.
  7. The DeLucio family of Trinity toured the Mitchell High School campus and showed the visit on their YouTube channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers. Many parents, students and school officials were not amused. YouTube
    The proposed policy comes up for a vote on Oct. 1.
  8. United School Employees of Pasco president Don Peace denounces the school district's pay raise proposal in a YouTube video sent to all district employees Sept. 9, 2019. United School Employees of Pasco
    The local teachers union already has denounced the idea.
  9. Pasco County community news TMCCARTY80  |  Tara McCarty
    Neighbors voice concerns about increased traffic, water quality and adhering to the county’s protections for northeast Pasco.
  10. Pasco firefighter Hunter Garcia, his wife Kayla and their 5-month-old daughter Clara were injured in a four-vehicle collision Friday afternoon. The baby died from her injuries Sunday; Garcia has been released from the hospital while his wife is still recovering. Pasco County Fire Rescue
    Clara Garcia, 5 months old, was secured in her car seat at the time of the four-vehicle crash. Her parents are recovering from their injuries.