David Eugene Smith was killed after a tense standoff at a Knoxville, Tennessee, motel on May 27. He was being sought in connection with the killing of his sister, her wife, and one of their friends in Lakeland, Florida over the Memorial Day weekend.
The standoff, which happened at a Days Inn, lasted around two hours and began when Smith called 911 and said he wanted to commit “suicide by cops.” Shots were fired with Smith being rushed to hospital after the incident ended. A few hours after the standoff, Smith was pronounced dead by the cops in Knoxville, reports WATE. The station further reports that Smith died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Smith Referred to Himself as ‘Prince David’
Smith was considered armed and “exceptionally dangerous.” He was a military vet who was previously a part of the US Army 82nd Airborne Division and may have suffered from PTSD, TampaBay.com reports that his family told police that Smith was not taking medication.
He had a prior criminal record. In 2009, he was arrested and convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession. That same year cocaine and gun charges were dropped against Smith, reports Click Orlando. During this time, Smith was held under Florida’s Baker Act for mental-health reasons.
2. Smith Left Ominous Facebook Messages on the Day of the Killings
In the days leading up to the murders, Smith’s Facebook postings became more-and-more frequent and hard to decipher. On May 20, he wrote “Because the lord is real and its a small ,matter t punish a estranged acting!wife. Fix yourself. Stop being unbecoming for nothing.” Then on May 19, he said “Pictures showing me you got crazy stuff going on ain’t helping me. Do you wanna be my wife again?” Over the course of the last few years, Smith has regularly posted biblical passages and pictures. On May 4, he posted a photo of rapper, Lil Wayne, with this accompanying caption:
3. The Murders are Thought to Have Happened on Saturday
Polk deputies say a man killed 3 people inside a South Lakeland house this weekend. Theyre still searching for him pic.twitter.com/d2JyqmvbCZ
— Stephanie Allen (@stephanieallenn) May 27, 2014
The Lakeland-murders are thought to have happened on Saturday May 24. A 14-year-old girl, the daughter of one of the victims, was not home at the time of the killing, she was away at an ROTC camp. She alerted authorities when she came home on the night of Monday May 26 and found her mother dead. Smith is related to at least one of the victims. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Smith lived at the home.
Neighbors of David Smith, suspect in Lakeland triple murder, say he was not nice to live next to.. He had "issues" #wfla
— Jeff Patterson (@WFLAJeff) May 27, 2014
Two of the victims, Miranda and Danyala were married, according to Miranda’s Facebook page.
On the day that three were believed to have been killed, Danyala Smith posted on Facebook about Mims and Williams:
The third victim, Ni’kosi Williams:
4. The Local Sheriff Has Stated Publicly Was Worried About Smith Starting Another Rampage
— Melissa Beckman (@WFLAMelissa) May 27, 2014
Polk County Sheriff Judd told the media that cops were hoping to catch Smith before he went on another rampage. There was also a worry that Smith might encounter an isolated law-enforcement officer.
5. He Had Ties in Tennessee
Cops believed Smith was heading to Texas or Tennessee. Smith went to high school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Knoxville News reported that Smith had stolen his father’s car. The Polk County Sheriff’s department said that Smith was of American-Indian descent.