Suspect in murder of Irishman dies after double suicide pact
THE family of an Irishman murdered in Florida believe a botched robbery sparked the fatal shooting, which later led to an apparent suicide pact by the suspect and his girlfriend.
Thomas Walsh (43), originally from Templemore, Co Tipperary, was shot in March as he closed Mainstreet Grill, the restaurant he managed near Daytona Beach in Florida.
The suspected killer, James Seagraves (29), had been fired from the restaurant by Mr Walsh two years ago and it is believed he may have held a grudge.
Police went to his home last Thursday to serve a warrant in connection with Mr Walsh's murder. But he and his girlfriend, Kayla Nemoto, believed to have been pregnant with a baby girl, barricaded themselves into their apartment.
After a stand-off lasting a number of hours where negotiators tried to persuade the couple to surrender, a SWAT team was sent in and discovered the pair dead inside.
Mr Walsh's brother Brian yesterday told the Irish Independent: "It brought no satisfaction, but it brought some closure."
He said that he believed the main motivation for Seagraves seemed to be robbery, and not murder.
"I think he was just coming in to rob the place because he was familiar with it, I don't think he meant to kill Thomas," Mr Walsh said.
He said that the man had worked in the washing-up area of the restaurant and not the front of house.
Mr Walsh said that Thomas never reported a confrontation with Seagraves and he pointed out that the suspect was involved in a string of other robberies.
Seagraves was released from prison in early March and was thought to have been involved in a spate of armed robberies since then.
Police would not release details of how Seagreaves and Ms Nemoto died, but it is understood that they both suffered gunshot wounds to the head.
Mr Walsh said it was fortunate that the family would not now have to fly to the US to endure long court sittings.
Thomas Walsh was often called the "American kid" by his seven siblings growing up because he was "quintessentially American looking".
"He was also very polite, which wasn't that common in the 80s, it was more of an American thing," Brian Walsh remembered yesterday.
Thomas was also a keen runner who raced in marathons and remained a member of Templemore Athletics Club.