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An argument over Christmas presents turned into a shooting that left a young mom dead, Florida police say

Thibault Spirlet   

An argument over Christmas presents turned into a shooting that left a young mom dead, Florida police say
  • A siblings' spat over Christmas gifts escalated into a fatal shooting, per a Florida police statement.
  • A 23-year-old mom was carrying her baby when her brother, 15, shot her dead, the police said.

An argument over Christmas presents escalated into a fatal shooting that left a young mom dead, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said in a statement on Tuesday.

The incident occurred on December 24 when three siblings were at their grandmother's home in Largo, Florida, for Christmas Eve, per the statement.

Abrielle Baldwin, 23, Darcus Coley, 15, and Damarcus Coley, 14, had been Christmas shopping with their mother and Baldwin's 11-month-old and six-year-old sons, per the detectives' investigation.

But celebrations took a turn for the worst when Damarcus started arguing with his older brother over their number of gifts, Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas County Sheriff, said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Damarcus then took out a 40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and threatened Darcus, Gualtieri said.

Damarcus was taken outside, where Baldwin reminded her younger brother that it was Christmas, per the local sheriff. But Damarcus threatened to shoot both her and her 11-month-old, who was in a baby carrier.

He then shot Baldwin in the chest, the sheriff said, and seconds later, Darcus came out of the house brandishing a 45-caliber handgun and shot Damarcus in the stomach, per the sheriff.

Darcus threw the gun into a nearby yard and fled to a relative's house, where he was arrested, the sheriff said.

Abrielle was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead, per the police statement. Damarcus underwent surgery and remains in stable condition, the sheriff said.

Upon release, Damarcus will be transferred to the custody of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to face charges of first-degree murder, child abuse, and being a delinquent in possession of a firearm, the sheriff said.

Darcus was taken to a mental health facility after making statements about harming himself, and upon release will be transferred to the custody of the Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center, the sheriff said. He has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence, per the sheriff's statement.

There were more than 40,000 gun-related deaths in the US in 2023, as of December 27, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Unintentional shootings occur more frequently around the holidays than at any other time of the year, linked to increased time spent at home, according to analysis by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, based on 2018-2022 data from the Gun Violence Archive.

While the 40-caliber handgun used in the shooting was recovered from the scene, the 45-caliber gun wasn't, the sheriff said.

"We've searched that area; we can't find it," Gualtieri said, adding: "The unfortunate reality is that it's probably going to be used in the next crime because somebody picked it up."

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