Dad Who 'Killed Family' Had All-American Life

Darrin Campbell is caught buying fireworks on store camera
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2014 3:45 PM CDT

Surveillance video shows Darrin Campbell—the Florida dad accused of killing his family and himself and setting their house on fire—buying fireworks in a store three days before the tragedy, ABC Action News reports. Campbell was "calm ... like any other customer," said a salesperson who cashed out the $600 purchase. Campbell said he was doing "early Fourth of July shopping" and wanted to use a half-off coupon, the salesperson said. "This is nothing to be alarmed about as far as a customer making a purchase." (The Tampa Bay Times has the video.) In other developments:

  • Adding to the mystery, the Campbells were an "all-American" family that routinely won their Tampa subdivision's "Best Decorated Holiday Home'' contest—and when neighbors donated to defray the electric-bill cost, the Campbells gave the money to Metropolitan Ministries, the Tampa Tribune reports.
  • Friends say the real tragedy is the unrealized potential of the children, Colin and Megan. Colin, 18, was a renowned high school baseball player said to have college-ball potential, and 15-year-old Megan was a dancer and honor student.
  • Darrin helped Colin on his baseball swing "forever," says a Little League coach. "I mean forever." But friends say Campbell wasn't overbearing, even as a coach on some of Colin's teams.
  • The fireworks Campbell bought couldn't have set a massive fire, says a pyrotechnics expert, but according to the sheriff's office he used gasoline as an accelerant, the Guardian reports.
  • A senior executive at Vastec Inc, a Tampa-based digital records company, Campbell had just taken time off work for reasons unknown.
  • "They were good people," says another of Colin's coaches. "It just gives you a pit in your stomach that you can't get rid of. It's so sad and so tragic.''
Click to read yesterday's developments, and the original story. (More Darrin Campbell stories.)

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