Murder-Suicide in Panama City Beach


The Bay County Sheriff's Office continues its investigation into what they're calling a murder suicide. Investigators say a Panama City Beach man shot his 10-year-old son and then turned the gun on himself late Tuesday night at 2508 Shady Oak Court. Neighbors are now wondering what could have been done to prevent it.

Rose Welch works on her yard every day. Sometimes she rakes leaves, but on Wednesday she put down new mulch. Wednesday morning her regular routine was interrupted by a haunting call from her son. The call was about one of her neighbors.

"He said i think somebody shot a child and then shot himself and then I said 'oh my god. No, I didn't hear anything about it," said Welch, a neighbor.

The Bay County Sheriff's Office says that neighbor, Phillip Stephens, shot his 10-year-old son - Joshua Tuesday night.

He then took his own life with the hand gun. Investigators say Joshua Stephens was taken to Bay Medical Sacred Heart, but died around 11:00 PM on Tuesday.

They say Phillip Stephens had battled problems before.

"we do know that in the past he has threatened suicide or talked of suicide," said Major Tommy Ford with the Bay County Sheriff's Office.

Neighbors say they never saw any indication of that.

"We knew he was a school bus driver and he used to turn around in the cul de sac and I'd be working out in the yard and he'd wave and I'd wave. Seemed like a real friendly guy," said Welch.

NewsChannel 7 spoke with many neighbors and they all said Stephens was quiet, kept to himself, but overall a nice guy.

Neighbors like welch say they're still in shock.

"It really is sad that this happened because we've seen him playing on his skateboard with the neighbor kids down the street and he'd always wave. The kids would wave at us all the time," said Welch.

The sheriff's office says statements from other family members indicate Phillip Stephens did have a history of threatening suicide, but there still isn't a clear answer as to why he would shoot his son.

They also say a 19-year-old was in the home at the time, but did not witness the incident.

Authorities are still gathering witness statements and the medical examiner's office will be performing autopsies.


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