A 23-year-old man is in custody after brutally beating his mother to death and injuring his two nieces at their Catherine Street home in New Port Richey, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
Nocco described the scene as "horrific."
"You can see in their (the deputies) eyes, this is one of those cases that's going to live with them forever," he said.
Deputies identified the suspect as Jason Rios and the victim as his mother, Angela Rios.
Rios' father, Ernesto, also lives at the house. Deputies said he heard screams this morning and discovered his granddaughters, identified as Jenica Randazzo, 9, and La'nyla Heater, 7, bleeding with Rios standing over her with a blunt force weapon.
Nocco said Ernesto stopped his son from hitting her and dragged him out of the house. Nocco said he kept trying to get back in but eventually Rios ran to the house next door which may have also belonged to the family.
Law enforcement tried to negotiate with Rios to come out but for hourse, he refused to come out. Family members warned deputies that Rios had access to guns and regularly went shooting. They also said a gun was missing.
Eventually, deputies deployed tear gas and three flash bangs. Rios then stumbled out and knocked himself out on the SWAT truck.
Nocco said deputies did not shoot any rounds and that Rios had used a drill bit on his neck and stomach before coming out. He was taken to a local hospital to receive treatment for his injuries.
The injured girls were taken to a local hospital as well. Jenica is in serious condition, while La'nyla is in stable condition.
Two other children were safely removed from the home. They were not injured.
Kathie Corean was once a foster mom to one of the girls.
“They are babies, they don’t need to go through this and I begged the state please let me adopt these kids,” Corean said, "I was this close."
Corean wanted the girls because their mother, Jessica, is serving prison time.
Crystal Martin said she grew up with the Rios family and saw him just two days ago.
“This isn’t something you would expect out of him because he just started going to school, he got a job, he was trying to get his life together,” Martin said.
The sheriff painted a different picture, saying Rios is paranoid schizophrenic and that he was possibly using drugs. But Martin said from what she saw Rios adored his nieces.
“Every time I saw him around them he was playing with them, picking them up,” she said.
And that he loved and cared for his mother.
“She was a double amputee, she had a lot of health issues, they broke their backs for her to try to help her and do what they could,” she said.
In fact, Martin said Rios' mom just told her the family was on track.
“She was just talking about how the family was starting to get a long a little bit better, everybody was starting to do a little bit better,” Martin said.