Shooter in San Marco double murder legally purchased gun despite documented mental health history

News4JAX received new details about a double murder in San Marco that shook the community when two women were shot and killed in August.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said 22-year-old Ty Head shot 28-year-old Paige Pringle and 53-year-old Tara Baker at a railroad crossing on Hendricks Avenue before he drove to Tennessee, where he died by suicide.

JSO said Head legally purchased a gun in June despite having a history of mental health and substance abuse problems.

His mother told JSO, an incident report said, that he dropped out of college in 2020 and his family placed him in a sober-living facility in Nashville. The next year, he was committed to a mental health facility and then went to another sober living facility in Jacksonville Beach. That’s when he was kicked out for fighting in June.

Investigators said Pringle, who was presumably headed home after stopping by her workplace at Dos Gatos bar downtown, was driving down Hendricks Avenue when she was forced to stop her white SUV because of a passing train around 1:40 a.m. Aug. 9.

Pringle was a beloved employee at the popular Dos Gatos bar in downtown Jacksonville, which is only about 2 miles from the train tracks.

News4JAX spoke to one of Pringle’s co-workers who said that before she left the lounge, she told him that a customer was giving her a weird vibe. While it’s unclear if Head was the customer she was referring to, police said they used cell phone tracking to determine that he followed her from her job.

Retired JSO Director Tom Hackney said this was an unusual circumstance.

“You usually have some kind of connection between your victim and your suspect. They know each other or are somehow acquainted. In this case, if this is true, this is something that’s not even random. It’s targeted for her by somebody who may have been infatuated by her,” he said.

Related: 911 callers describe the scene after two women were killed in San Marco | ‘Everyone’s shocked’: Sheriff says JSO searching for answers after 2 women gunned down near San Marco train tracks

Surveillance video showed also Head’s gray Volkswagen Passat driving behind Pringle down Hendricks Avenue just before the shooting.

For reasons investigators do not know, Head got out of his car and shot Baker, who was standing next to her bicycle near the train tracks, waiting for it to pass first. Then he shot Pringle as she sat in her vehicle, causing her SUV to coast forward and strike the passing train.

The two women did not know each other, and police searched Head’s laptop but found nothing connecting Head to Pringle or Baker.

A day after the shooting, Head was found dead with the same gun he used to kill Pringel and Baker in his hand. His autopsy revealed there weren’t any drugs in his system.

The report said Head’s mother gave him more than $2,000 to help him get by after he was kicked out of the sober living facility, but the two argued. She told police that he was acting irrationally.

JSO went to talk to him at his job the day before the double murders on Aug. 8. JSO said he appeared lucid and told the officers that he was not a threat to himself or others. Instead, he was upset with his mother.

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