'Horrible day:' 7 children lost parents to suicide in 25 hours in 3 separate incidents

3 men, 1 woman killed in suicide, murder-suicide, sheriff says

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

LAKELAND, Fla. - A possible domestic violence situation at a Lakeland home Thursday turned into a three-hour standoff that ended after a man fired several rounds at deputies and then killed himself, according to officials with the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

The standoff marked the third domestic-related suicide or murder-suicide in 25 hours involving couples in Polk County.

On Halloween, deputies said Antero Araujo, 40, killed his wife, Beatriz Araujo, 42, and then took his own life. Their 21-year-old son witnessed the shooting. The next morning, on Thursday, Julio Serrano Jr., 48, waited for his estranged wife to leave for work and confronted her with a gun. That incident ended with Serrano killing himself in the street near Mulberry Senior High School, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

The third domestic-related incident happened Thursday evening when authorities said they were called to a residence near Skyview Drive and Goodyear Avenue around 7 p.m. after receiving a tip from the neighboring Sheriff's Office in Pinellas County of a possible domestic disturbance where a woman and her children were in danger.

Judd said the woman's mother called authorities because he daughter had called her while fighting with her husband, Michael Manning, 43. The woman thought her daughter was being beaten and called 911.

Both the woman and children were later found safe at another location.

Deputies found the woman sleeping in her car after she was unable to get back into her neighborhood, because of the standoff. She left the house after the argument to go buy chicken for dinner, deputies said. Because she left her phone at home, deputies believed she was still inside the house and possibly in danger.

"We think she’s either inside or being held hostage and she’s a half-mile away sleeping in the car," Judd said.

The State Fire Marshal's Office, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and the Lakeland Police Department also responded to the incident.

When deputies arrived, they said Manning was inside the home and refused to come out. He told deputies he did not want to go back to jail, according to the Sheriff's Office. Authorities worked to end the standoff peacefully for several hours. During the standoff, Manning fired a shot gun through the front door and windows at officers at least six times.

"The shots went on either side of one of the deputies, narrowly missing both deputies," Judd said.

During the incident, Judd said the man's daughter rode up on her bike and refused to cooperate with authorities, siting her Fifth Amendment right.

Deputies said they heard a final shot from inside the home and Polk County SWAT officers entered the home at 10:50 p.m. to find Manning dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Judd said deputies found two shotguns and 1,700 rounds of birdshot in the home.

No deputies were injured during the incident.

The sheriff called the deadly 25-hour period a "horrible, horrible day."

“In 25 hours from Halloween evening til the next day, right at 25 hours, seven children lost either a family member or both family members to suicide," Judd said. "All of these instances were domestic violence related.”

Watch Judd's full comments below:

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