IMMOKALEE — Privy to an argument between Coby Deleon and his girlfriend, Deleon's grandmother left the couple's Immokalee home late Wednesday. She went to find Deleon's mother, who lives one street away.
When the two returned, it was too late for an intervention — both Deleon, 18, and Natalia Trejo, 17, were collapsed on the floor with gunshot wounds to their heads. Collier County detectives described the deaths as a "probable murder-suicide."
Family said Deleon and Trejo had been living in the house at 205 N. Sixth St. as a couple for about a year. Deleon's Facebook account says he was married to Trejo last December, although a legal marriage could not be confirmed through court records.
Both had been students at Immokalee High School, school officials said.
Superintendent Kamela Patton briefly addressed the deaths during a Thursday morning meeting with local CEOs, calling it a "real tragic situation." Patton said she got a call about the shootings around 3 a.m.
Deleon and Trejo are the fifth and sixth Immokalee students to die during her year-and-a-half tenure, she said.
"That's the saddest thing, no matter what, is when we lose a young person," she said. "The young lady was trying to break up with him. He didn't like that, ended up shooting and killing her and then shot and killed himself."
"The even more tragic shame is it's on the heels of us having a big celebration," Patton said, referring to a pep rally for the Immokalee football team's state championship game today in Orlando.
Outside the house on Sixth Street mid-Thursday, crime scene tape had been removed and there was no outward sign of trouble inside. Christmas lights were strung around the home and a tinsel-covered wreath on the front door conveyed false joy.
Victor Rua said he learned of Deleon's death while riding his bicycle through the neighborhood. Rua said he knew Deleon through their time together at New Beginnings Alternative School in Immokalee.
"He was a good kid," Rua said. "I just heard about it right now when I saw the house and the news stations. I was like, 'Damn.'"
A family friend who drove by the home around noon said he had been with Deleon's family earlier that morning.
"They're sad; they're devastated," he said before driving off.
Detectives said Deleon's mother called 911 after finding her son and Trejo dead inside a rear bedroom of the house. Trejo was found curled up in the fetal position in an Immokalee High School jacket, while Deleon was sitting leaned up against a wall with a gun between his legs, according to an incident report.
Reports identified the killings as domestic violence.
"The community is going to be in mourning and upset over this," said Linda Oberhaus, executive director of the Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Collier County. "There are more victims here than the families that are dealing with these losses."
There are statewide initiatives to discuss domestic violence in middle and high school, and elementary students learn "Hands are for helping, not hitting" through a school program in Immokalee. Still, Oberhaus said, "there's obviously more we need to do."
Grief counselors met with Immokale students individually and in small groups, said L. Van Hylemon, the school district's coordinator of psychological services. Hylemon said the mood at the high school was mixed, as students were simultaneously dealing with the deaths of two classmates and preparing for today's football game.
"We felt the school was subdued a great deal, but they did continue with their pep rally," Hylemon said.
Grief counseling will be available to both students and faculty who are struggling, and the district's crisis team can make referrals if further help is needed, he said.
"There is a normal grieving reaction that people go through when we go through this kind of event," Hylemon said. "For those that have difficulty sleeping or see their eating habits change, those are students we're very concerned about that need additional services."
Staff writers Victoria Macchi and Brittany Shammas contributed to this report.