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Bullet from Pasco man's suicide hits bystander

Published Oct. 18, 2013

PORT RICHEY — It was a school night. Yvonne Diaz invited her cousin Jeane Sams to her condo at the New America complex Wednesday to visit with her children and fiancee. The family gathered in the living room and ate pizza rolls while watching Monsters Inc. Sams stepped outside the front door to take a phone call.

They heard a blast outside that sounded like a firecracker over the TV.

Then pounding on the door.

Sams spilled into the foyer, blood gushing from her leg.

"I got shot," she told them, Diaz said.

Diaz's fiancee, Brandon Parker, rushed the children upstairs. Diaz put pressure on the wounds, like she'd seen in episodes of CSI. There were three wounds: entry and exit holes just above her right knee and a bruise on her other leg where the bullet finally stopped.

What she didn't know was that the bullet had first traveled through a man's head.

• • •

A few minutes earlier, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Michael Bruty, 28, was arguing with his girlfriend several yards north on Frontier Trail — loud enough to draw a crowd between the rows of white two-story condos.

Bruty threatened to kill himself, sheriff's spokeswoman Melanie Snow said. His girlfriend told him not to do it. He put the gun to his head.

Parker remembers Bruty as a nice neighbor. They had cookouts in the complex with their kids. Bruty had two daughters from one marriage and a son from a second, said his grandmother, Zoe Kostopoulos.

"He was a good kid," she said. "He didn't look like the suicidal type."

• • •

Two families called 911 that night, yards across the road from each other. Parker said that when deputies arrived at his condo, they yanked him out of his apartment and shoved him up against a car, thinking he'd shot Sams.

They questioned him multiple times, he said, before the gun was recovered from beneath Bruty's body. Deputies still aren't sure of the bullet's exact trajectory, especially since two cars were parked in the most direct path between where Bruty and Sams stood.

Bruty died at the scene. Paramedics loaded Sams into an ambulance and took her to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. She was expected to be released later Thursday.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Contact Alex Orlando at aorlando@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6247.

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