Police: Two Polk State College students murdered as suspect's 7-year-old daughter watches

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Two Polk State College students were shot to death while the suspect's 7-year-old daughter ran and hid nearby, Winter Haven's police chief said Wednesday.  A third student was critically injured.

Investigators say the suspect Joshua A. Davis, 32, was the gunman.

He lived with his daughter in the apartment on Howard Lake Drive where the shooting occurred around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Winter Haven Police Chief Gary Hester said the group was smoking marijuana when something came over Davis.

"The only thing that I can tell you as a possible motive, and that came straight from the killer's mouth, is that he had a dark feeling and that this dark feeling led him to retrieve his weapon and come back and shoot," Hester said.

Joe Palacios, 19, and Christian Rodriguez, 19, died at the scene. Estaban Zavala, 20, was hospitalized in critical condition.  He is now listed in critical, but stable, condition.

All three students were described as "successful, popular and active in student life at Polk State."

Davis is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder and one count of child abuse.

As he was taken to jail this morning, a weeping Davis told reporters, "I was just so scared for my family."

Print this article Back to Top