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Tenant's refusal to vacate Plant City residence resulted in a dispute that left two men fatally shot

Deputies say Richard Bliss fired first shots
Posted at 4:48 PM, Mar 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-13 20:42:25-04

PLANT CITY, Fla. — Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies are investigating a shooting that happened inside a Plant City business.

HCSO says that the shooting took place at approximately 4 p.m. on Monday. 

Deputies responded to Bliss Enterprises of Plant City, Inc., located on E Knights Griffin Road. When they arrived, they found the owner of the business, Richard Bliss, deceased from a gunshot wound, along with two additional men injured from gunshot wounds.

Deputies say the business is located on a tract of land that houses a private home, small corporate offices, several barn structures and one or more rental housing units. 

Sometime before the incident Monday, two men entered the office to speak with Bliss.

One of the men was living on the property as a tenant and he had an ongoing dispute with Bliss surrounding his being asked to vacate the premises several times in the recent past, Colonel Donna Lusczynski explained in a press conference on Monday.

Sometime during the discussion in the office between the three men, Bliss shot the other two with a gun.

Deputies say a relative of the two men who were injured, had been waiting outside the office and heard the shots. The family member entered the office and subsequently shot Bliss.



Lusczynski says that Bliss, 49, died inside the office. Investigators waited late into the night for a search warrant to enter the business and collect evidence at the crime scene.

One of the other two people died Tuesday morning. He has been identified as 43-year-old William C Duncan. Duncan was transported to Lakeland Regional Hospital on Monday where he later died. The identity of the second person, who was injured, has not been released at this time. 

The relative who shot Bliss is reportedly cooperating with authorities. Deputies are investigating whether or not criminal charges will follow.

According to online records, Bliss served time in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Bliss also has numerous arrests in Hillsborough County for crimes that include multiple arrests for domestic violence, battery, and assault.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office also responded to the scene because the location of Bliss Enterprises straddles the county line.

Bliss Enterprises is a family owned construction company that has been building barns since 1982.

Neighbor, Gary Shepherd, said he got along okay with the neighbors. They built a pole barn for him years ago.

"It's just tragic that a person comes to the place where he thinks that is the only thing you can do (is) shoot somebody. I mean in this kind of situation, it's just totally out of hand and then of course the other family member [came] to their rescue and shot him and so what (are) we going to do....just shoot everyone up over there. What's that going to accomplish," Shepherd said.

Shepherd said his son heard commotion yesterday.

"They heard some arguing going on over there and thought they had heard some gunshots," Shepherd said.