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Hillsborough deputies: Brother killed brother in Thonotosassa shootings

THONOTOSASSA — The deadly gunfire that erupted Tuesday on Smoken Gun Lane was a case of fratricide.

Scott Tomlinson, 51, was found shot to death in the kitchen of his 5,000-square-foot home, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives believe he was killed by his older brother, Todd Tomlinson, 53.

When deputies arrived at the victim's home, they said they encountered Todd Tomlinson standing outside the winding driveway, gun in hand.

They told him to drop it. He refused, deputies said, and instead started to raise it.

Two deputies opened fire, fatally wounding Todd Tomlinson. Then the deputies discovered the body of the younger brother inside the home.

The Sheriff's Office on Wednesday identified the two brothers as the gunman and murder victim they encountered the day before at 11008 Smoken Gun Lane, a 3.4-acre gated property in a well-to-do collection of homes near Lake Thonotosassa.

But the agency has not said what led to the younger brother's murder or the older brother's confrontation with deputies.

Scott and Todd Tomlinson were more than just brothers, however. They were also business partners who spent three decades working together in the construction industry.

A neighbor and close friend said the two brothers had been feuding recently over the fate of Tomlinson Brothers Plastering Inc., the family business located less than a mile from where both brothers were killed.

"They worked together hard, they built a business together," Steve Kocsis told WTSP 10News. "They built a lot of things together, so to end this way is sad."

Kocsis, who has known the brothers for 20 years, said they'd been arguing over the construction company and planned to split it up in the coming days.

State records show that this wasn't the Tomlinson brothers' first business dispute. In 2007, they were sued by a third brother, Jeff Tomlinson, who accused the other two brothers of pushing him out of the family construction company he said he helped build.

Jeff Tomlinson, 48, said in the lawsuit that he helped his brothers found the company in 1984, then left to form his own company, Jeffco Construction Co.

In 2003, Jeffco merged with the family business. Things went well for four years, the lawsuit said, the brothers split the profits "evenly" and Jeff Tomlinson was paid a salary.

In 2007, according to his lawsuit, Jeff Tomlinson said his two brothers "took control" of the family business while he was in surgery to remove "malignant tissue."

The two brothers fired Jeff Tomlinson's assistant, withheld his salary and canceled his phone service, company credit card and health insurance, according to the suit. They reported Jeff Tomlinson for theft, the lawsuit said, and barred him from the workplace.

He sued the other two brothers for damages and lost wages, and asked for an injunction to prevent them from removing him from the family company. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2013. Jeff Tomlinson did not return a call for comment on Wednesday.

The Sheriff's Office said deputies were brought to the Smoken Gun Lane by the family: Todd Tomlinson had called a family member about an ongoing argument, authorities said, and that person reported a "domestic in progress" to 911.

When deputies pulled up to the mouth of the driveway about 3:17 p.m. Tuesday, the agency said, they saw an armed Todd Tomlinson descending the gated brick driveway.

The Sheriff's Office said neither deputy involved in the shooting was injured.

They were identified as Deputy Mark Barnwell, 52, who has spent 29 years with the agency, and Deputy Irazema "Izzy" Viera Roquemore, 45, who has put in 15 years.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said nobody else was home at the time of the shootings. On Tuesday night, authorities finished searching the house and returned the property to Scott Tomlinson's wife.

Scott Tomlinson's wife declined to comment Wednesday. Family of Todd Tomlinson could not be reached for comment.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Michael Majchrowicz at (813) 226-3374 or mmajchrowicz@tampabay.com. Follow @mjmajchrowicz.

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