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Deputies: Man kills wife, 16-year-old step-daughter, commits suicide in Lakewood Ranch

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LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL (WWSB) - Deputies say a man killed his wife and his young step-daughter following an argument late Sunday night.

It happened around 10 p.m. in the 11000 block of Griffith Terrace in Lakewood Ranch, which is a part of the Central Park community. James Bennett's mother told deputies she heard her 53-year-old son arguing with his wife, 35-year-old Silvana Bennett, in another room. Then she says she heard gunshots.

She went into the room and found Silvana dead from gunshot wounds and her son dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"Deputies got a call from a woman who had escaped this home who is the mother of the shooter," explained Randy Warren, PIO for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Bennett's step-daughter and Silvana's daughter, 16-year-old Andrea Barberena-Rojas, had been shot. Though EMS attempted to save her, she succumbed to her injuries.

"Sometimes these things just become so heated and in that moment of rage and emotions, somebody does the unthinkable and kills someone and then that turned into not just one shooting but two, and then he turned the gun on himself," Warren further explained.

Andrea Barbereno-Rojas.jpg

Andrea Barberena-Rojas, courtesy the Manatee County School District

Bennett's 2-year-old daughter, which he had with Silvana, was home at the time. Neither his 2-year-old daughter, who turns 3 on Wednesday, or his mother were injured.

Deputies are still investigating this case.

"The people who are dealing with domestic issues need to just take a deep breath, step back and go some place else," Warren said. "We're not going to sit here and say what should've... could've happened here, because we don't know all the circumstances. James made a horrible decision."

This double murder suicide is very surprising for David Huber, a Lakewood Ranch father of three girls. We caught up with him and his daughter Grace as they were practicing softball near the high school.

"It shouldn't really happen, I don't know what's behind the act of it but kids should always feel safe in their home," said Huber. "As a parent we're there to guide them and give them all the support we can."

Andrea was a 10th grader at Lakewood Ranch High School. This is the loss of a third student in recent weeks.

Last weekend, two students, 17-year-old Chase Coyner and 15-year-old Matthew Powers, were killed in a crash while driving to homecoming. Powers was laid to rest on Sunday.

A crisis team is on campus at the high school. For Grace Huber, who is a freshman and so many other students at Lakewood Ranch High School, it's been very hard for them.  

"There's grief counselors for students that knew the kids and are affected by it, so it's just a sensitive subject so everyone has kind of be proactive about it," said Huber.

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