Tue. May 28th, 2024

The 22-year-old Florida man who shot and killed two women in the San Marco area last month took his own life the next day with the same gun, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said in a news conference Wednesday.

Investigators have identified Ty Christopher Head as the shooter who killed 28-year-old Paige Pringle and 53-year-old Tara Baker early in the morning on August 9.

JSO Chief of Investigations Alan Parker said investigators do not definitively know why Head shot the women.

“When Head took his own life, he blocked the only avenue for investigators to conclusively answer this question,” Parker said.

After investigators identified Head as the shooter, they learned he had shot and killed himself outside Nashville the day after the double murder. Parker said that means the case is cleared.

“While we cannot provide the deceased victims’ family members with justice through the court system, it is our solemn hope that by providing them with some factual answers concerning these murders, we can impart to them some sense of peace,” Parker said.

Parker said Head had no criminal record but had a history of substance abuse and had been in a Jacksonville Beach halfway house for addiction recovery not long before the shooting.

Parker indicated that Head was living out of his car at the time of the shooting. He said Head has no documented history of mental illness.

Pringle’s parents were at Wednesday’s news conference and were acknowledged by both Parker and Sheriff T.K. Waters.

“Our hearts are with you and your family,” Waters said.

Parker said he hopes, despite not being able to provide the families justice, that knowing who killed their loved ones provides some sort of peace.

“Our community continues to send them support as they navigate their grief,” Parker said. “We cannot ever find sense in a senseless act.”

Investigators said Pringle, who was presumably headed home after stopping by her workplace at Dos Gatos bar downtown, was driving south 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.

Surveillance video showed 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 Pringle and Baker, who was standing next to her bicycle near the train tracks, also waiting for it to pass.

The shooting caused Pringle’s SUV to coast forward, striking the passing train.

Both women died from their injuries. They did not know each other.

Parker said the only lead investigators had at first was the color, make and model of the car that had been following Pringle.

Crime scene detectives also recovered many spent 9mm casings at the scene.

Parker wouldn’t elaborate on the exact technology but said the FBI and ATF aided investigators with identifying Head as the possible shooter.

“Investigators quickly learned that Head owned a gray Volkswagen Passat, which matched the description of the suspect vehicle,” Parker said. “Additionally, they learned that Head had shot and killed himself outside of Nashville, Tennessee, the day after the double murder.”

Parker said it’s unclear why Head traveled to Nashville after the shootings, but investigators in Wilson County, Tennessee, helped JSO detectives confirm that Head had taken his own life with a 9mm handgun near his gray Passat.

“ATF forensics just confirmed within the last hour that the 9mm handgun that Head used for his suicide is, in fact, the weapon that took the lives of Tara Baker and Paige Pringle,” Parker said.

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com