A Pinellas County teacher has been shot and is in critical condition, and his brother is accused of pulling the trigger.
This incident has stunned the entire Greek community in Tarpon Springs. The Stavrakis family was all gathered together Monday night, celebrating their family patriarch, 84-year-old Steve Stavrakis, who had just passed away Sunday.
Then, out of the blue, Tarpon Police said the oldest son, Phillip, snapped and shot his brother John several times.
"It's a lot for a family to have to deal with in the course of 24 hours," said Tarpon Police Captain Jeff Young. "The father recently passed away, and that's what they were gathered for at the mother's house there."
Phillip Stavrakis, 54, lived in the apartment adjacent to his parents' house. Monday night, he and his younger brother John briefly left the gathering, seemingly on good terms, but the night would end in shock and disbelief.
"There's obviously some tension there," said Captain Young. "The two brothers did leave the mother's residence and went next door and then John came back a short time afterwards and had been shot multiple times and the family members on scene there called 911."
Phillip Stavrakis hopped in his car and disappeared. Tarpon police detectives, working with Hernando County sheriff's deputies, tracked Phillip's every move, following his cell phone pings.
"What it came down to was an all-night effort by our detectives, doing good, old-fashioned police work and cooperative effort with other law enforcement agencies to locate this individual," Young said.
They found and arrested Phillip Stavrakis on Tuesday at a motel in Brooksville.
"John Stavrakis, I know him personally, he's a very good man," said Young, who added Stavrakis teaches at Tarpon Middle School and is well-liked there.
"Thoughts and prayers going out to him right now and hoping that he recovers fully," Young said.
"The primary focus at the present time is the funeral of her husband, nothing else," said Father Michael Eaccarino, at the St. Nicholas Orthodox Greek Cathedral, where the Stavrakis family has been a member for years.
Eaccarino consoled Andie Stavrakis, who is the widow of Steve and the mother of Phillip and John. Her grief is immense, but Eaccarino said she has great strength from her faith.
Ironically, the family will bury the elder Stavrakis on Wednesday, right after the celebration of the Dormition, or the "falling asleep" of the Virgin Mary.
"And here it is, a funeral for the Virgin Mary," said Eaccarino. "But we celebrate it with great joy, and soon after, we will again have the celebration of the life of Steve Stavrakis, and the hemming of his funeral, which again is a celebration. Then we know that he has also fallen asleep and is in the hands of the Lord at the present time."
Phillip Stavrakis is charged with attempted murder. His brother John remains at Bayfront Medical Center in critical condition. The funeral for their father is at 2 p.m. No word yet if son Phillip will be allowed to attend, with a police escort.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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