DAVENPORT, Fla. - Just a week ago, Heather Assad didn't think much of her daughter's boyfriend. Christina Assad, 26, had been fighting with Jesse Shivers, 30, to the point where she thought the two should go their separate ways. Now, Assad will never look at Shivers the same way again.
"He's a hero, actually. He saved my child's life," Assad said.
Shivers and Christina Assad were staying at a home at 15 Forest Drive Monday afternoon, when two armed home invaders burst through the door. They demanded to see a man named Matt, who was sleeping in the back bedroom. When he didn't come out, one of the gunmen heard Assad say she was dialing 9-1-1. The suspect pointed his handgun in her direction.
Sheriff's investigators said the second suspect told his partner that they should leave, that the robbery "wasn't worth it." As the two were departing the house, one of them fired two shots. Shivers stepped in front of Assad before the robber's gun discharged. He was struck in the upper abdomen.
"She had a lot of blood splatter on her face because she was right there when he got shot," said Assad, describing what her daughter saw as the murder took place.
"She thought it was like a firecracker or something when it went off and then she looked at him and he said I've been shot," Assad said. "He took a couple of steps and he fell to the ground."
Assad was on the phone with emergency dispatchers trying to revive him. Shivers died in her arms.
Deputies are searching for two people described as Hispanic males driving an older model Jeep Cherokee, colored gold and green.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd personally supervised the crime scene investigation, and said the shooting was senseless because the victims were not who the gunmen were looking for.
"They forced their way into one residence with a gun and shot when they didn't have to," Judd said. "All they had to do was leave. They're capable of doing it again."
The community along Forest Drive is a mixture of retirement aged residents, renters, and younger people moving into vacated homes. Giselle O'Rourke has lived in the area for 36 years, and complained that crime has been steadily going up. But murder is a first.
"Those are young lives being lost. It's sad," O'Rourke said. "This community used to be the hidden paradise. We're not hidden anymore and we're not paradise anymore. We're hell," O'Rourke said.
James Moore, a six-year resident in the area, said he was discouraged that the suspect would shoot an innocent person to death. He, too, is worried about the increase in crime.
"Our world is changing. Our community here is just no longer safe like it used to be," Moore said.
The suspects are described as two Hispanic males. They reportedly fled in an older Jeep Cherokee vehicle, possibly gold and green. The investigation is ongoing.