A Florida community has been left shaken up after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer shot and killed his wife and their two children before turning the gun on himself.
The harrowing incident is especially alarming as it comes just days after Officer Ezequiel Almodovar, 39, and his family enjoyed a trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Bay Lake on Tuesday.
“Family time… we needed this… no school, no work, no adult bulls— just family time enjoying life through eyes of kids… love you baby,” Ezequiel wrote on Facebook of the moments he shared with his wife Marielis Soto-Almodovar, 38, and their sons Ezequiel Jr., 16, and Gabriel, 12.
Making the crime all the more rattling, Ezequiel even raved over Marielis with a heartfelt tribute on Valentine’s Day.
“Happy Valentine’s Day to my forever valentine!!! Marielis Soto-Almodovar. Today is a day of love, but there’s not enough days for me to show you how much I love you and how much you mean to me today and every day!!!! You’ve always been there for me and I hope I can continue to show you the love you deserve mi amor… te amooooo forever and ever!!!!” Ezequiel penned alongside a collage of photos, which include a photo of himself and Marielis on their wedding day.
While the family seemed to be living an idyllic life, those close to them grew worried when they hadn’t seen or heard from the Almodovars after a few days.
At around 3 p.m. on Thursday, deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office were called to the family’s home, OCSO revealed in a press conference.
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“Folks were concerned about the safety and well-being of the occupants inside that house,” Sheriff John Mina told reporters.
When police arrived on the scene and entered the home, Mina said they discovered “four deceased people.”
“All had been shot, one adult male, one adult female and two juvenile males,” Mina continued. “Our preliminary investigation revealed that the adult male shot his family members… and then shot himself. We are working this as a murder suicide.”
The only survivor was the family’s Shih Tzu named Fluffy, who was both frazzled and scared when investigators entered the home, WFTV reported.
Director of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Diane Sabatino told ABC News that they “are currently working with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to ensure that any information needed for their ongoing investigation is made available.”
Almodovar’s former brother-in-law Bruce Lewis has since spoken out telling WFTV he had no idea of any issues going on with the family.
“I’m just devastated about this,” Lewis told the outlet. “His sister is not holding up that well. My son is devastated. He wasn’t a violent man. He wasn’t doing drugs. He didn’t use substances, so I don’t know what possessed him to be in a state of mind.”
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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