ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The family members who were found dead Thursday as a result of a triple murder-suicide at an east Orange County home have been identified.
Deputies on Friday said Ezequiel Almodovar, 39, fatally shot 38-year-old Marielis Soto, 16-year-old Ezequiel Almodovar and 12-year-old Gabriel Almodovar before turning the gun on himself.
The family’s neighbors said they’re shocked and still processing what happened.
“My husband exchanged fruit with them within the last week or two,” neighbor Michelle McCracken said. “I would tell if I heard something or saw something, but there were no indications. It’s just sad and heartbreaking that I don’t think I could have done anything.”
Officials said the elder Ezequiel Almodovar worked for U.S. Customs and Border Protection as an officer assigned to the Orlando International Airport.
“CBP’s Miami & Tampa Field Offices are saddened to learn of the deaths of one of our officers, who before taking his own life, took the lives of his wife and two children. We are devastated by this tragic loss and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected,” Director of Field Operations Diane Sabatino said.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina said agency officials contacted deputies on Thursday because they hadn’t heard from Ezequiel Almodovar and through the course of the investigation, deputies learned other members of his family hadn’t been heard from in days as well.
Authorities said they went to the home on Corner Glen Drive in Orlando around 3 p.m. Thursday and made the decision to enter based on the information they had.
“It’s just a tragic situation,” Mina said.
Administrators at Corner Lake Middle School and East River High School sent messages to the campus communities notifying them of the loss.
“We were made aware this evening of the deaths of one of our students last night. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they go through this extremely difficult time,” East River High School principal Nikki Campbell said in a recorded message.
After school Friday, more than a dozen students came by the home with flowers and held hands while they said a prayer for the two boys who were killed. According to classmates, both Gabriel Almodovar and Ezequiel Almodovar were on the their school’s basketball teams.
Sherman Whidbee went to school with the youngest boy, Gabriel Almodovar.
“He’s on the basketball team for Corner Lake and he’s really nice to me,” Whidbee said.
The students said they want to make sure both boys are remembered.
“The person that died (Gabriel), he was a very good teammate and he seemed like he had a very bright future so we just wanted to honor him,” Brennan Lewis said.
“It’s a rough time, you know?” said Corner Lake Middle School Basketball Coach Josue Maldonado. “I coached Ezequiel two years ago. It’s just a good family. Amazing kids.”
Maldonado said he held a moment of silence on Friday morning with the basketball team, and he came to the family’s house on Friday night to pay his respects.
“It’s so hard. It’s hard, you know? It shouldn’t end like this. Not them, not them,” he said.