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Investigators say all 4 residents in Avila mansion fire were shot

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Darrin Campbell (Courtesy LinkedIn) Darrin Campbell (Courtesy LinkedIn)
$650 worth of fireworks. This is the exact purchase made by Darrin Campbell Sunday morning. $650 worth of fireworks. This is the exact purchase made by Darrin Campbell Sunday morning.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Investigators say all four residents found dead inside the Avila home set on fire early Wednesday had been shot.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Col. Donna Lusczynski made the announcement during a media briefing Thursday.

Lusczynski says a firearm registered to Darrin Campbell was found in the residence, but would not confirm how or where the four were shot.

She also said Campbell purchased a number of gas cans on Sunday, three days before the fire, in addition to a large quantity of fireworks, both discovered in the burned home.

Col. Lusczynski confirmed fireworks were not found strapped to the victims' bodies, but were found throughout the home.

At this time, medical examiners are still unable to positively identify the bodies. Investigators spent the day sifting through debris to find evidence at the crime scene and will be there as long as they need to be, Lusczynski said.

Fire crews were called to the home around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday by neighbors reporting an explosion in the area. Police think the fire was intentionally set.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Col. Donna Lusczynski describes the fire as "unusual" and says the bodies of two adults and two teens were found in their respective bedrooms.

Campbell's father-in-law says Campbell, his wife and their two children were found dead Wednesday morning in the Avila home they were renting. Autopsies are being conducted Thursday.

The investigation into the cause of the fire could also be a slow process, HCSO says.

The 6,000 square-foot home is located at 16223 Sierra de Avila and owned by retired tennis professional James Blake who was renting it to the Campbell family.

William Weimer, vice president of Phantom fireworks in Tampa, says Darrin Campbell purchased $650 worth of "backyard fireworks" on Sunday morning. He says Campbell bought six packages of firecrackers and about seven packages of aerial fireworks.

"On average it was a pretty unremarkable purchase. Not much different than much purchases that come through the showroom," said Weimer. "It was no more than a family would purchase for a 4th of July celebration."

He says Phantom Fireworks is cooperating with authorities in the investigation but would not go into details.

"We are careful and we keep our eyes open for purchases that stand out," he said. "But this one was truly an unremarkable purchase."

The Hillsborough community is expressing their condolences after four bodies were found in a mansion rented by the Campbell family in the Avila neighborhood.

Darrin Campbell worked as the COO for VASTEC, a tech company in Tampa, who released the following statement Thursday:

"On behalf of all in our organization we are greatly saddened to learn the news regarding our Chief Operating Officer, Darrin Campbell, and the Campbell family. This is a difficult time for all involved and we are trying to cope with this news. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to friends and family members during this time of grief."

The Carrollwood Day School also expressed their condolences, confirming the school had connections to the family. Two high school students were not in attendance on Thursday, the head of school says. Friends of Megan, 15, and 19-year-old Colin Campbell took to social media Wednesday posting messages about the teens.

On Wednesday the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay says the Carrollwood Day School has reached out for support during this tragic time. The Crisis Center says a "trauma response team has been sent to the school to provide grief and trauma counseling to school staff and friends of the two students who lost their lives in the Avila fire yesterday."

News Channel 8 spoke with Kimberly Campbell's father, Gordon Lambie, who says his daughter was "devoted to her family and children" and was a stay-at-home mom. 

Lambie says he got the news from his son, a doctor living in Florida, on the phone.

“All Kim’s family is gone,” Gordon Lambie of Michigan remembers his son telling him.

Although Lambie's first thought was a car accident, the reality was that the home the family rented burned in a fire.

“It’s difficult, I’ll put it that way,” Lambie said. “But I know they’re with the Lord, and that’s all I can ask.”

Lambie said he didn’t believe the family had any money troubles. Darrin Campbell held various corporate jobs over the years, and Lambie said he even took a year off recently and did some golfing.

His grandson Colin was an “excellent baseball player, I sometimes thought I’d see him in the pro ranks.”

The Campbells moved to Florida almost 20 years ago, Lambie remembers.

Darrin and Kimberly met in Lansing, Michigan, when they both worked as legislative aides in the state legislature. Kimberly Campbell had graduated from Central Michigan University and Darrin Campbell had an MBA from the University of Michigan, Lambie said, before moving to Tampa.

They sold their previous home but wanted to live in a place close to their children's school, so they signed a two-year lease for Blake's home, which was close enough for the teens to walk to school, Lambie said.

Police said the family had been living there for about two years.

A former neighbor, George Connley, said they were a nice family. He said that Kimberly Campbell was "sophisticated and classy."

"We know nothing of any problems," Connley said. "The kids were outstanding children. This is very difficult to put our arms around."

Online, friends of the two teens expressed their grief in photos and tweets. Some students gathered Wednesday evening and released balloons with messages on them as a remembrance.

At one time, Darrin Campbell was the senior vice president at PODS, a company that provides mobile, temporary shipping and storage containers. According to his LinkedIn profile, he left PODS in 2007 and was a vice president at IVANS, an insurance company.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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