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Spring Hill shooting suspect found dead in home

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Published:   |   Updated: September 10, 2013 at 05:24 PM

SPRING HILL – A Spring Hill man who barricaded himself inside his Siam Drive home Tuesday after shooting a neighbor multiple times has been found dead.

Sheriff Al Nienhuis said around 3 p.m. the suspect, Thomas Brocato, was located on the second floor of his home by the SWAT team, and apparently died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Nienhuis said Brocato, 58, had doused himself in gasoline before shooting himself.

Law enforcement arrived at the intersection of Landover Boulevard and Siam Drive around 9:30 a.m.

Brocato is believed to have shot his neighbor, Bill Stelling, at least two times at his 13071 Siam Dr. residence before retreating to his home at 13085 Siam Drive.

Initial reports said Stelling was shot multiple times in the stomach. He was treated by first responders for gunshot wounds, and airlifted to Regional Media Center Bayonet Point around 9:55 a.m.

Stelling’s condition was listed as “stable” late Tuesday afternoon, according to Public Information Officer Denise Moloney.

Sheriff’s deputies, detectives and other units surrounded Brocato’s home shortly after the shooting. Nienhuis estimated about six families were evacuated from their homes.

Detective Rocky Howard negotiated with Brocato, calling him “Tommy,” and asking him to come out and talk to him “like you did that one day in the driveway.”

Howard told Brocato over a loudspeaker that Stelling was OK, and that he knew Brocato was a “good guy.” Negotiators also attempted to give Brocato a cell phone, and also asked him to either call the sheriff’s office or come out with his hands up.

Brocato has been buying and selling firearms the last three years, and was reportedly armed with a handgun, according to emergency responders

Around 1:20 p.m., tear gas was shot inside the residence, and after clearing the ground floor, the SWAT team found Brocato dead on the second floor of the home. Nienhuis declined to discuss what kind of gun was used, or if the man left a note behind.

Because the sheriff’s office was not successfully able to contact Brocato during the negotiation, law enforcement in the area were notified of his description. Two local schools were locked down a portion of the day, according to Hernando County School District Media Relations Specialist Roy Gordon.

Neighbor Matt McCabe said he was originally told to stay in his home, and later to get in his car and leave.

“He was trouble,” McCabe said of Brocato, adding he had argued with many residents on the street.

McCabe said Brocato accused others of stealing a gun out of his car, as well as an $800 check from him.

McCabe called the victim a “nice guy” who walks with a cane, and lost his wife a few years ago to cancer.

Deputies shut down Landover Boulevard and Siam Drive to Mariner Boulevard earlier this morning after the confirmed shooting. In the course of road closures a 68-year-old male downed his motorcycle, suffering minor injuries to his wrists and ankles. He reportedly had scratch marks on his helmet, but did not complain of any additional injuries.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement search showed Brocato did not have a criminal record in Florida.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5283

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