NEAR FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) — Authorities have provided new details in an apparent murder-suicide that, they said, left a Tamarac mother dead and her loved ones devastated.
Surveillance video captured Broward Sheriff’s Office cruisers pulling into an townhome complex along the 5800 block of Hampton Hills Boulevard, just after 2:45 a.m., Thursday morning.
“I heard police with a speaker calling someone’s name to come out of the house,” said a woman who lives at the complex.
After several hours, well after the sun rose, deputies with their guns drawn as they approached a unit.
A second neighbor said she heard deputies calling another person’s name.
“You could tell that they took a different tone, and just the way that they were approaching, like really, like, ‘Come here, come here,’” she said.
Four children came out of the unit. The oldest of them was a 10-year-old boy.
“He was holding the little infant, and I think the infant [was] 2 or 3 months old, I would say?” said the second neighbor. “It’s an image that will [forever] have in our minds. I see the little feet dangling of the baby as he’s trying to hold it, running across the street. It was heartbreaking.”
But even hours before, neighbors said something was wrong in their community.
“I woke up around 2:45 in the morning. I woke up by three loud bangs,” said a third resident. “In the back of my head, I’m thinking it it was, I don’t know, gunshots maybe.”
“We saw the SWAT team out here pointing their guns,” said man who lives at the complex.
Deputies said someone called 911 and hung up. Hours later, investigators said, deputies found a man and a woman dead inside the unit.
BSO detectives identified the man as 39-year-old Russell Gardner.
A longtime family friend identified the woman as Marke Gardner and also identified the man as Russell Gardner.
Deputies said Russell killed his wife and then himself.
As the family mourns and grapples with so many questions, neighbors remembered the Gardners as friendly and loving.
“When they moved in, she came over and introduced herself, you know, let us know if we need anything,” said a woman who lives at the complex. “She was active with the kids’ lives and she brought gifts for our kids.”
“We knew the family. They were extremely nice people, lovely people,” said the man who lives at the complex.
The couple leaves behind three children of their own under 10 years old as well as a foster child.
The family friend has set up a GoFundMe page for the children. If you would like to make a donation, click here.
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