SANFORD, Fla. – A man was taken into custody Monday morning after a woman was killed and five others, including two children and a Winter Springs High School student, were critically injured in two shooting incidents described by police as "horrific."
Sanford police said Allen D. Cashe was arrested in connection with the shootings, which were reported around 6:20 a.m. on Hays Drive and West 24th Street, a few blocks south of Goldsboro Elementary School.
Sanford police said Cashe, who had a relationship with the woman, opened fire at her home, killing her and wounding her father and her boys, ages 7 and 8.
"I can't stress enough that this scene is one of the worst that our officers and investigators have ever responded to," Sanford spokeswoman Bianca Gillett said. "It's horrific."
Family members said the slain mother is Latina Herring, 35, and the two boys are Brendan and Branden Christian. The boys were opening their eyes as of 7:30 p.m., the family said.
The children were airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando and remain in critical condition. Their grandfather, Bertis Gerard Herring Jr., 56, was taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital with critical injuries, police said.
Neighbor Arlene Bush said she heard about 12 gunshots, which made her think the shooter was going from room to room firing the gun.
[WEB EXTRA: Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence]
"Excessive amount of blood everywhere," Bush said. "I can't even believe (the grandfather) made it out of the house as bad as he was."
Other neighbors were shocked to hear news of the shooting.
Police said officers were called to a Wawa gas station in Sanford at 3:20 a.m. because Cashe and Herring were arguing over a set of keys. Sanford Police Chief Cecil E. Smith said Cashe was searched and at the time had no weapons on him or in his vehicle.
Cashe and Herring said the argument had not been physical. Officers calmed them down, separated them and left the scene, Smith said.
At 3:37 a.m., police received another 911 call, this time from a third party who said a woman was being battered while walking down West 25th Street. While trying to find the victim, later identified as Herring, police received another 911 call saying that the man had a gun, according to a news release.
Officials determined that Herring and Cashe were once again involved in a dispute, so they went to the home at 209 Hays Drive and found the pair in the yard arguing about the keys once again, police said.
Cashe was searched for a second time and officers determined he had no weapons on him, Smith said.
Herring gave the officer a red bag of Cashe's belongings that included a 9 mm Glock handgun, police said. The Glock was not used in the shootings and at no time did Cashe possess or handle it, Smith said.
Officials said Cashe was not arrested because the disputes were civil and police had no evidence that any crime had taken place. Smith supported his officer's actions.
"There is no way for us to predict what was going to take place. We did everything that we believe was possible. We searched him, we searched his vehicle, we searched his surroundings around him as well and no firearm was found," Smith said.
Cashe left the area after the second dispute and returned about three hours later with an AK-47 and shot the family, according to a news release.
Friends and family said Herring was a loving person who got along with everyone.
"Basically, just outgoing. Very, very friendly. She'll give you the shirt off her back. It's just, I don't understand. Like everybody else here, I don't understand," Latoya Bedford said.
After the first shooting, Cashe then drove to West 24th Street near Marshall Avenue and shot two innocent bystanders, Lazaro Paredesquelite, 43, and Rakeya Jackson, 18, police said.
Both were taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital. They are in stable condition, police said.
Rayeka attends Winter Springs High School and was waiting for the bus when she was shot, police said.
Dominique Smith, another student who was at the bus stop, said the gunman stopped and said, "I'm sorry, but y'all are gonna die," before he fired about 10 shots.
Smith said she ran to a nearby house and a neighbor let her inside.
"I was scared. I was panicking. I was crying. I just didn't know what to do. I just wanted my momma and my dad at the time," she said.
"I am saddened to hear of the domestic violence-related shooting that took place in Sanford. It appears that three of the victims attend Seminole County Schools and we are working with both the Sanford Police Department and Seminole County Sheriff’s Office to determine the students’ names and schools," said Walt Griffin, superintendent of Seminole County Public Schools. "Grief counselors will be available at all affected schools on Tuesday. Our hearts go out to the families of these young and innocent children."
Police said an officer who happened to be in the area heard the gunshots and spotted a man driving from the scene. The man, later identified as Cashe, was taken into custody at the Seminole Garden Apartments, and a firearm was recovered, police said.
"It's horrific. We are just thankful that we immediately came into contact with this person and took him off the streets before anyone else was injured or possibly lost their life this morning," Gillet said.
[PHOTOS: Sanford shooting scenes]
Cashe is charged with first degree homicide, four counts of attempted first degree premeditated homicide, one count of second degree attempted homicide, one count of felon with a firearm, and one count of violation of parole - felon with a firearm.
Cashe has faced several violent charges in the past, including domestic violence, records show.
In one incident in 2013, the victim said Cashe punched her in the face several times and slammed her into a car, according to a report.
Four women in Seminole County have filed domestic violence injunctions against Cashe since 2005, court records show.
He's also been accused, all in separate incidents within the past seven years, of backhanding a woman, punching a man, smashing the windows of a car with a baseball bat, and pointing a gun at two people while telling them, "If I weren't on county GPS I would pull the trigger and kill both of you," records show.
A police investigation into Monday's shootings is ongoing.