"Damper" put on well-off, family-friendly community after suicide follows first Disney town murder
After first-ever Disney town murder another unrelated community crisis ends in a police standoff and a suicide. What happened in Celebration?
CELEBRATION, Fla. — The owner of a failed security business barricaded himself in his soon-to-be foreclosed home, shot at deputies and then killed himself in this well-groomed Central Florida town built by Disney.
The 14-hour standoff came just days after the town's first-ever homicide, unsettling residents who moved to the community for its safety and small-town values. Authorities said the two deaths were not connected.
Craig Foushee, 52, barricaded himself in his home Thursday for more than 14 hours, according to an Osceola County Sheriff's Office report. He shot at deputies several times, but they never returned fire because they couldn't get a clear shot. No deputies were injured.
Court records show Foushee was in the middle of a divorce, and it was apparent that his life was unraveling, neighbors said.
Early Friday, deputies deployed tear gas, entered the home and found Foushee dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
On the unusually crisp winter morning, the smell of the tear gas hung in the air on the upscale cul-de-sac. All of the second floor windows — including the third-floor dormers — were either broken or had bullet holes the size of baseballs. At least one streetlight in the shape of a lantern appeared to have been shattered by gunfire.
"Just because this is Celebration doesn't mean everyone's perfect," said Eva Medved, who lived across the street from Foushee. "People die, people get divorced, people get in trouble."
Medved, who warned her two children not to get too close to the house for fear the lingering gas would harm them, said all of the neighborhood kids, including Foushee's children, played in the street and on everyone's porches.
"This kind of puts a damper on all of that," said Medved, who has lived in Celebration since the master-planned community's founding in 1996.
With 11,000 residents, Celebration was built by Disney as a walkable, family-friendly small town. Crime is unusual in the town, which also boasts some of the highest median incomes in the area.
Court records show that Foushee had been on a downward spiral for the past year.
His wife, Kimberly Foushee, filed a domestic violence petition last June, but the injunction was dismissed in August after a hearing. Kimberly Foushee had filed for divorce in September 2009, and the couple reached a mediation settlement agreement last month.
Foreclosure proceedings were initiated against Craig Foushee in 2009, and efforts to reach a mediation agreement with the bank were canceled in September. The records also show he filed for bankruptcy in April.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain said there was no connection between Foushee and Matteo Patrick Giovanditto, who was found slain in a condominium Tuesday.
Giovanditto lived alone with his Chihuahua and was killed over the long Thanksgiving weekend, authorities said. Neighbors hadn't seen him for days, so they filed a missing person's report, then went into his condo a day later and found him.
Details were still emerging in the second death, but state records list Foushee as the owner of a security business, Reliant Protection Group. Online searches show it was a security training and threat assessment company.
Online records from the Florida Division of Corporations showed that the company was dissolved in September of this year. Foushee also had ties to other companies, including a custom home and construction company that dissolved in 2006.
Photos also depict men at a firing range. One has the caption: "Dept. of Defense Pre-Deployment Tactical Training."
"He was just a really nice guy," said Simone Wynne, a family friend who placed a bouquet of flowers on Foushee's porch Friday morning. "He was well-known and respected. This was a tragedy that escalated."