Fort Lauderdale police suspect father killed son, then self in home shooting
He was a working man with 15 years at the same job, a religious man who took Bible study into his own home, a family man who went on his very first cruise with his wife and son just five months ago. But something drove Carl Dennis Mackey to turn against all that.
An apparent murder-suicide carried out early Monday morning left Mackey, 41, and his 12-year-old son dead in their Fort Lauderdale home, and grieving family and friends asking why.
“It’s a terrible, terrible thing,” said a woman outside the Mackey home who identified herself as a family member, but declined to give her name. “It’s a mystery to all of us. Why would he do such a thing?”
According to police, a confrontation between Mackey and his wife, Lora Mackey, spilled out into the street in front of their home about 12:40 a.m. in the 2700 block of Southwest Eighth Street.
A Fort Lauderdale Police car was nearby answering an unrelated call when Lora Mackey ran outside to them and told the officers her husband had threatened to kill her.
“She saw the officers on the street and ran out to get them, and that’s when she heard two shots,” said Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Jack DiCristofalo. “Apparently, that’s when he shot his son and himself.”
The department’s SWAT team took up position around the house, in the neighborhood of single and multi-family homes just off Riverland Road, and tried for several hours to reach Mackey inside by phone and with a loudspeaker. At 5 a.m. the SWAT team tossed a gas canister into the home and, when no one emerged, they entered, said DiCristofalo.
“All they knew at the time was that someone was armed and there had been two rounds fired,” DiCristofalo said. “They used all their options and then went in.”
Inside they found Mackey and his son, Brian Mackey, each dead of gunshot wounds. A small-caliber, semi-automatic handgun was on the floor near Dennis Mackey’s body.
Carl Mackey’s co-workers, at the city of Plantation’s public works department where he had worked since 1988, were stunned by the news.
“We’re totally shocked. Carl was always a gentleman, a religious and family man type of guy,” said Mike Scott, Mackey’s supervisor. “He was always upbeat and smiling. On Friday he was joking around about the Dolphins, and I told him to have a great weekend.”
Police and co-workers said Mackey was a religious man, a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who held Bible study meetings on Tuesday and Thursday nights in his home.
“He had his beliefs and felt strongly about them. But he didn’t try to press them on you. He wasn’t a Bible thumper,” Scott said. “He was the kind of man who if someone was telling a dirty joke, he’d just get up and leave the room.”
Plantation Mayor Rae Carole Armstrong said the Mackey family has long been associated with the city, and Carl Mackey “practically grew up with us here.”
“I remember him as a 9-year-old coming to work with his father, Gus, and planting trees in the medians. Eventually he came to work with us and started with the landscape crew and worked his way up to supervisor.
“We are all shocked and saddened by what has happened.”
Scott said Mackey took his wife and son on a four-day cruise last April “and he said they had a great time.”
Lora Mackey works as an office manager with the Widdon-Rogers Education Center, an alternative school in Fort Lauderdale. Both Armstrong and Scott said Mackey often brought Brian to family day celebrations in the city and bring-your-child-to-work days.
“He was a pleasant young man, very polite, and sometimes I would see him following his grandfather,” Armstrong said.
Today would have been Brian Mackey’s first day of school at Driftwood Middle in Hollywood. Two women outside the Mackey home, who said they were relatives, said the 12-year-old was a gifted student who was “very smart” and “very well-behaved.”
“I can’t believe he took that boy,” said one before breaking into tears.