You can cover a thousand tragedies and never think the lens will turn on you. But life doesn't work that way. For proof, look no further than Jupiter, Florida - where veteran television photojournalist Jim Sitton finds himself on a side of the glass he never imagined. It began late last night when a troubled family member opened fire in the WPTV staffer's home. When the sound of gunshots faded, four people lay dead, including Jim and Muriel's only child, 6 year old Makayla Sitton. Reports differ on what led to the shooting, but at this point the details hardly matter. What does matter is a respected member of the photog nation is dealing with unspeakable loss. And he's showing profound composure. Early this morning, Sitton stepped before news crews he no doubt knew to address the death of his daughter.
"God has blessed us with this beautiful girl, and he just took her home a little bit earlier than we wanted," he said, struggling to hold back tears. "God packed a lot of sweetness into that little body."
I've never met Jim Sitton in person, but through on-line pleasantries, I know him to be a man of unshakable faith. That's not a trait I particularly share. Still, watching a fellow photog and Father use what he knows to be true to get through such darkness...well, it's enough to makes even a skeptic like me believe. Jim Sitton's been described as 'the heart and soul of the photography staff at WPTV'. Here's hoping his friends there will close rank around him as he and his family struggle to grasp the loss of their angel.
Federal marshals have launched a manhunt for 35-year-old Michael Merhige, the family member police say shot his twin sisters, an elderly aunt and his six year old niece Makayla. He fled in a blue 4-door Toyota Camry with Florida tag W42-7JT. Authorities consider him armed and dangerous. Hell ain't got a room hot enough.