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Source: Depression Led To Deadly Family Tragedy In Miami Home

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Miami mother and her two children were rushed to the hospital in critical condition Wednesday night after they were shot inside their Shenandoah neighborhood home. (Source: CBS4)

Miami mother and her two children were rushed to the hospital in critical condition Wednesday night after they were shot inside their Shenandoah neighborhood home. (Source: CBS4)

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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) –Depression may have led a Miami father to go on a shooting rampage inside his Shenandoah neighborhood home before turning the gun on himself.

A senior law enforcement source told CBS4′s Jim DeFede that the man, identified by the medical examiner as 45-year old Carlos Zuniga, had been depressed and it had worsened over the last few weeks.

According to the source, Wednesday evening Zuniga shot his wife Michelle first in their home in the 2600 block of SW 26th Street.  He then reportedly shot his 14-year old daughter Lauren twice as she called 911.

Zuniga’s son, 11-year old Stefan, was also shot. He died from his wounds later at the hospital.

When police arrived the first officers heard shots being fired inside the house. As they surrounded the house the gunfire inside stopped and when the cops went in they found Zuniga dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  A Glock handgun lay nearby, according to the source.

According to the medical examiner, Stefan Zuniga passed away at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center early Thursday morning.

Zuniga’s wife and daughter remain in critical condition.

One of the couple’s neighbors told police that she took cover when she heard the gunshots because she didn’t know what was going on.

“So I threw myself on the floor and crawled to the hallway of the house because my room hits their house and I have a window there. I didn’t know if there’s somebody in the front of my house, back of my house or someone in my yard,” Jennifer Pichs.

Neighbors Xavier Cal said he ran to the mother who had collapsed on the front lawn.

“I heard another shot and I saw police come out with the daughter who was shot in the abdomen,” said Cal.

They added that they were stunned by the shooting because they seemed like a happy family.

“They lived there 15 years and the police have never been to the house before.  It’s very, very tragic what happened in that house,” said Cal.

Friends of the family who went to the hospital said there were no signs that something like this would happen.  They said the family appeared to be fine – they enjoyed camping together and hanging out. They didn’t think there were any financial problems and there was not a history of domestic violence history that they knew of.

“It’s very sad.  It’s very sad.  It’s unbelievable that this happened,” said Cal.

Zuniga, a former airline pilot, ran a business call Miami Air Ballooning Inc. out of the family’s home.  He’s also been an aviation safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration since September 2010.

“Really simple to drive. You just hold it up. Pump the cold air in,” Carlos Zuniga can be heard saying in a video from our newspartners at the Miami Herald.

The clip was part of a home video shot be a Herald staffer who rode on Zuniga’s balloon in March, 2008.

Les Leech knew Carlos Zuniga from the balloon fields. He was stunned to hear about the shooting.

“This is so far removed from what you would think would happen with a family like that that it’s jarring. It’s upsetting emotionally,” Leech told CBS 4′s Lauren Pastrana.

Leech runs the Sunrise Community, a non-profit serving people with special needs which often organized hot air balloon races for charity.

He said Carlos Zuniga was a family man who was reserved and hardworking.

“I can’t imagine the emotional impact or involvement that would warrant him having to do that. I don’t know,” Leech said.

 

 

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