State Settles With Family Involving Bell Tragedy

GAINESVILLE, Fla. —  The Florida Department of Children and Families has reached a settlement agreement with the families involved in the Bell Tragedy.

Department of Children and Families

 DCF and two other private companies – who provide child welfare services – will dish out a total of $750,000 to the families involved in the 2014 shooting.

 “For us, we’re glad the settlement could be settlement was reached so we could all have closure and move forward,” Partnership for Strong Families spokesperson Jenn Petion explains.

As part of the settlement, the families have agreed to not sue the state or its contractors for wrongful death among other complaints.

 DCF will pay $450,000, Partnership for Strong Families will pay $250,000 and Deverux $50,000.

 Records show the Spirit home was investigated more than a dozen times for child abuse and neglect concerns. In 2003, Don Spirit served three years in person after shooting and killing his 8-year-old son – which was ruled an accident.
dcf31“There will still be horrible people who do horrible things to children,” Petioin explains, “but that doesn’t mean we will ever stop reviewing our processes and challenging ourselves to do even more to protect our community’s most vulnerable kids.”

The incident prompted DCF to retrain the staff at their Chiefland office and 1,600 investigators statewide.

TV20 reached out to DCF for comment, they referred us to a statement that was made last year which explained how officials would review improvements to better protect children.


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