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Domestic dispute ends with shots

On her 24th birthday, a woman shoots herself in the head after her boyfriend shoots his cellular phone, according to a sheriff's report.


© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 26, 2001

HOLIDAY -- A 27-year-old man who was arguing with his girlfriend for erasing telephone numbers stored on his cellular phone shot the phone twice with a .22-caliber revolver Sunday night.

Then, he told Pasco sheriff's deputies, his girlfriend picked up the gun and shot herself in the head.

Deputies arrested Ronald Buonaccorso of 3129 Merita Drive at 10:30 p.m. Sunday for shooting within an occupied dwelling. Several hours earlier, his live-in girlfriend, Jackie Grubbs, had been flown to Bayfront Medical Center.

Sunday was her 24th birthday.

Sheriff's reports described the details of the pair's fight, which was punctuated with cursing and name-calling, according to Michael McDermott of Tarpon Springs.

McDermott was sitting in the Merita Drive home's garage apartment with his friend, Deb Nichols, who rents the space. They were checking the weather reports on the TV news shortly after 6 p.m. when they heard yelling coming from the main part of the home. Nichols stuck her head through the laundry room to figure out what was happening, but then decided they should just mind their own business.

Soon after that, McDermott said he heard gunshots.

"I heard a pop, pop," he said Monday morning. "I know the difference between a gunshot and a firecracker or something. They don't sound the same."

Moments later, someone was banging on the door. Buonaccorso burst through, breaking its chain lock.

"I need to use the phone," McDermott recalled Buonaccorso saying. "Jackie just shot herself in the head."

Buonaccorso needed his housemate's phone because he had shot his own, he told them. McDermott said they ran to the bedroom and found Grubbs lying on her back between the king-size bed and the closet. Her arms were straight by her side, the revolver lying close by.

"I saw blood coming from her nose," McDermott said.

Nichols cradled Grubbs' head between her knees, trying to give her an airway as she gurgled from the wound on her upper right temple. McDermott went out to the middle of the street in his boxer shorts to flag down the ambulance crew.

On Monday afternoon, officials at Bayfront Medical Center would say only that Grubbs was still alive. Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said the shooting was under investigation.

Grubbs apparently has a history of suicide attempts. On March 8 of last year, Buonaccorso called sheriff's deputies to report that his girlfriend had threatened to cut her wrists because the couple were breaking up. He also said he had to stop Grubbs from shooting herself one week before that incident, the report said.

The pair also had a history of domestic disputes. During the past two years, deputies responded to five calls related to domestic disputes or battery. On May 9, 2000, Buonaccorso was arrested for simple domestic battery. Grubbs told officials then that her boyfriend had punched her in the legs and ribs after she dropped a piece of potato with sour cream on his new couch.

That charge was later dropped, along with several felony charges also on Buonaccorso's arrest record.

For his latest charge, he posted $20,000 bail at 4 a.m. Monday. When contacted by a PascoTimes reporter Monday afternoon, Buonaccorso declined to discuss what happened Sunday night.

Grubbs' family members could not be reached for comment Monday. A neighbor, Trever Meyer, said he had heard the couple fighting before but "they seemed like average, normal people."

Meyer had eaten dinner with them, had gone fishing and boating with Buonaccorso and hadallowed the couple to babysit his 3-year-old daughter.

"If I didn't trust them, I wouldn't let them watch my daughter," Meyer said Monday afternoon. "(Jackie) was just a nice, sweet girl. I had no idea that she'd do something like this."

McDermott spent Monday morning making calls to figure out Grubbs' condition. Few answers turned up.

He summed up the tragedy by pointing to what lay on the kitchen table in the main house: a red gift bag that was a mournful reminder of a birthday gone terribly wrong.

- Colleen Jenkins can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6232 or 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6232.

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