VERO BEACH, Fla. -- 43-year old Keith Underwood was arrested Friday for stabbing his 12-year old stepson, and injuring his wife and 15-year old step daughter.
This stemmed from a domestic fight between Underwood and the children’s mom. None of the injuries are life threatening.
Officials with the Indian River County Sheriff’s office say deputies had been called out twice to the home Friday morning for a verbal fight. Just two hours after the deputies left, the fight became physical.
An arrest affidavit for Underwood says he stabbed the 12-year old with a steak knife while the boy was resting on the couch with his mother. The 15-year-old girl and the mother were also injured while the kids tried to break up the fight between their mother and stepfather.
The fight eventually moved outside the home, where one neighbor described the mother being dragged, and Underwood slashing her car tires.
Underwood eventually left the scene. Authorities say he drove to a Walgreens drugstore in Fort Pierce, then called Fort Pierce Police , claiming self-defense.
A neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified, said her teen-aged son saw the fight around 5 a.m. when he walked outside to grab something out of his car.
He ran inside to tell his dad, who came outside to break up the fight.
"We ran outside. Me and his dad ran outside, and that’s when he was charging at her again and that’s when my husband ran up and stopped him," the neighbor said.
The mother’s sister, and the aunt of the children, Barbara Josey, said Underwood is typically a gentleman. "All I can tell you is she is traumatized….It’s a shock. It really is a shock. It's devastating," Josey said.
Josey said Underwood and her sister have only been married about a year.
While authorities were at the house shortly before the violence erupted, officials say there was no way for them to prevent the fight, even after the two earlier trips to the home.
Thomas Raulen with the Indian River County Sheriff’s office explained, “If deputies responded, and there was no probable cause for an arrest, if it was in fact just verbal disturbances and there was no probable cause for them to make an arrest, then of course they wouldn't do that, they couldn't do that."
Raulen said deputies could have, and might have asked either Underwood or his wife to leave the home until they cooled down. Deputies could not force one of them to leave.
Underwood will make his first court appearance Saturday morning. He faces battery, domestic assault, and child abuse charges.
Underwood has no local criminal history, but his arrest affidavit shows he has two active warrants in other states, one of which is a failure to comply regarding another domestic violence incident.
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