'Absolute heartbreak’: Neighbors, teammates of children mourn family of 4 found dead in Orange County murder-suicide

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An entire middle school basketball team stood for 12 seconds in silence outside an Orange County home Friday in honor of No. 12 on their team. The day before, deputies said their teammate, his brother, his mother and his father were all found shot dead inside the home on Corner Glen Drive.

Officials are investigating after they said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Ezequiel Almodovar, 39, assigned to the Orlando International Airport, shot and killed his wife, Marielis Soto, 38, and two sons, Ezequiel Almodovar, 16, and Gabriel Almodovar, 12, before taking his own life Thursday.

Investigators said the shooting happened at the family home on Corner Glen Drive in Orange County after Customs and Border Protection hadn’t heard from Almodovar, according to Sheriff John Mina, of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

READ MORE: Border protection officer killed family, then self in Orange County home, Sheriff’s Office says

Deputies made their way inside the home and found the bodies of all four family members inside. Neighbors said their family dog, a Shih Tzu named Fluffy, was found alive and scared inside, barking as investigators barged in.

Mina said the shooting is believed to be a murder-suicide.

Mina said there is no threat to the community and no further suspects. He described the neighborhood where the family was found as “a quiet neighborhood.”

Officials said it’s too early in the investigation to know what the motive in the shooting was.

The border agent, who went by “Zeke” on social media, posted Tuesday that he was “feeling thankful” with his family at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Investigators say it was sometime after that that he shot and killed each family member and then himself.

Neighbors said they were shocked and heartbroken to learn what had happened.

“Absolute heartbreak because, you know, when you get to know your neighbors, you care about them. Like, we do care about them," neighbor Michelle McCracken said. “Absolute shock because it literally would have been the last group of people around here on my mind that this would happen to.”

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Graylann Holland, a neighbor, said one of the boys killed played sports with him.

“He is more than a teammate to me. I just didn’t think this could happen,” Holland said. “I don’t know how I’m going to continue a lot of stuff without him.”

Almodovar’s former brother-in-law, Bruce Lewis, who lives in Illinois, said his family had no indication that there were any problems going on in the family.

“I’m just devastated about this," Lewis said. "His sister is not holding up that well. She’s doing the best she can. My son is devastated.”

Lewis said he has no idea what could have motivated him to do something like this.

“He wasn’t a violent man. He wasn’t into drugs," Lewis said. "He didn’t use substances, so I don’t know what possessed him to be in a state of mind.”

Christopher Boyce, WFTV.com

Christopher Boyce joined WFTV in January of 2019.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.