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Fight over sprinkler systems leaves two Florida men dead

OLDSMAR, Fla. (WFLA) – The weekend was supposed to be quiet in the tight-knit mobile home park where American flags flew over carports and tiny manicured lawns dotted the narrow streets. Sadly, by weekend’s end, a fight over sprinkler systems and parking places would take the lives of two men who, by all accounts, were supposed to be enjoying retirement.

Steven Larson and his wife, Sandy, split their time between Illinois and Tampa Bay. A small personalized flag with their names hangs in their driveway at their mobile home in Pinellas County. The 75-year-old and his spouse loved the Florida lifestyle, offering a break from the midwest cold. Everything seemed perfect for the couple, except for the ongoing feud that Steve had with his neighbor, 80-year-old Edwin Barthold.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said, “Everybody knew of this ongoing feud, all four people involved. The men are involved and their spouses or significant others.”

According to the sheriff, the two men fought over everything at Gull Aire Village; from sprinkler systems getting water on each other’s cars, to parking spots in the mobile home park. On Saturday, their ongoing argument escalated quietly and quickly. When it was over, the two men were both dead.

A neighbor said that it happened suddenly and without warning.

“Nothing prelude to that, or any screaming, yelling, fighting or anything else like that. It was just the bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,” said the resident.

Something snapped in Larson Saturday night, according to the sheriff. Around 8 p.m., after a Starbucks run, the 75-year-old came home, got his gun and told his neighbor to come over. His wife told detectives that something wasn’t quite right after he came back from his daily trip to the popular coffee chain.

“Put the gun in his pocket, walked outside, called him over and shot him 6 times,” the sheriff described. “Really executed him, when he shot him in the head.”

Sheriff Gualiteri went on to say that Larson knew exactly what was about to happen and was on a mission.

“When you shoot somebody 6 times, especially after you fire a first round and they drop to the ground, you walk up to them, you pump five more rounds into them, you shoot them in the head, that’s a man who’s hell bent, that no question, he was gonna kill this guy,” said the sheriff. “And he executed him. And then decided, that at 75-years old, he had enough. He went in the garage, sat down in the chair, put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger and that was the end of it.”

Neighbors said that Larson had a “bad temper,” but they never thought anything like this would happen. Meanwhile, the sheriff says that Larson bought the gun back in 2012.

Family members were notified immediately over the weekend. By Sunday afternoon, they had congregated between the two mobile homes asking members of the media for privacy.