Masked gunmen kill man holding his baby daughter at family gathering

More than 20 people were in the house when the two masked men started shooting and turned the scene into “mass chaos.”

The spray of bullets struck a father holding his baby daughter.

It took less than two minutes for Gainesville police to arrive at the home after the shooting began, just before 11:40 p.m. Wednesday night, but the gunshot wounds to 35-year-old Antonio Mason’s chest were too severe, police spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said Thursday. He died in the house and his 11-month-old daughter was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm, struck by a bullet that also hit her father. They were attending a family gathering with at least five kids present.

Another man, 21, was also treated for a gunshot wound to the arm. He and the baby are hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

“It’s amazing no one else was hit,” Tobias said.

Witnesses told police two gunmen, wearing masks and armed with handguns, opened fire just inside the doorway of the house, in the 800 block of Northwest Fourth Place, across the city from the University of Florida. Many of the guests at the gathering ran into the street away from the home, with one person trying unsuccessfully to chase after the two gunmen, who ran away.

Police, who responded along with police dogs and a helicopter, believe they are no longer in the area. Shell casings from at least two different guns were found at the scene.

They don’t know who the men are or why they opened fire on the home. Patrols have increased in the area, but Tobias said detectives didn’t believe the attack was random. While the neighborhood has a history of crime, he said, it has been a while since a crime like this has happened.

“I can’t imagine what kind of person would look at a person holding a child and be able to make the barbaric decision to pull the trigger,” he said. “I just can’t fathom that.”

This is the second shooting in Gainesville this week, according to the Gainesville Sun. Angelo Ray Canevari, a UF student, was covered in blood when he banged on the door of a local woman’s house early Monday, saying he shot someone. When police investigated, they found 57-year-old Lannie E. Geer lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office deputies told the Sun.

Authorities found a gun and ammunition, the Sun reported. The shooting took place roughly 10 miles from the University of Florida campus.

Geer was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital in serious condition while Canevari, 26, was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Anyone with information is asked to call Gainesville police at 352-393-7670 or CrimeStoppers at 352-392-STOP.

Alex Harris: 305-376-5005, @harrisalexc