The 6-year-old boy, shirtless and tanned, plopped down into the lawn chair next to his grandmother.
“I miss Daddy,” the boy said, his thin legs swinging.
His grandmother, Janet Gonyer, sat in another chair Saturday morning. Her son, the boy’s father, had left Friday afternoon for an overnight fishing trip. Three hours later, police found Francis “Frankie” McDermott fatally shot.
Officers discovered the 36-year-old’s body in the driver’s seat of his silver Dodge pickup truck shortly after 8 p.m. in St. Petersburg. The truck was stopped in the middle of the street. McDermott had been shot in the upper body.
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Detectives do not think it was a random act, St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz said.
On Saturday, his family and friends exchanged tearful hugs in front of the small pink house that McDermott shared with his mother, girlfriend and nine children. Five are his biological children, and McDermott also helped care for his sister’s kids, Gonyer said. They range in age from 1 to 12. McDermott also has an 18-year-old daughter who lives elsewhere in St. Petersburg.
“He was a good father,” Gonyer said.
McDermott made a living as a commercial fisherman. He left about 5 p.m. Friday and planned to fish through the night, his mother said. A dozen or so mullet from the previous day’s trip sat on ice in a huge blue cooler beside the house.
McDermott was recently accused of fleeing and eluding officers, and in the 1990s he was convicted of domestic battery, state records show.
The family has been plagued by tragedy in recent years.
His sister, Mandy “Red” Sampson, then 27, was fatally shot in 2007 during an attempted home-invasion robbery in south St. Petersburg. The crime is still unsolved.
McDermott and his wife, Brandy, took in Sampson’s children after her death. Brandy died of cancer two years ago, said her mother, Connie Hazlewood.
She thinks about the decisions that now have to be made about the children’s care.
“This has got to sink in first, and then we go from there,” she said.