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Park Rapids native shot in Florida

David James with daughter Danielle shortly after her birth. (Family photo)

A Park Rapids native who was looking for a job to move back to Minnesota was murdered Sunday in his Tampa, Florida suburb following a neighborhood dispute.

David James, 41, a 1987 graduate of Park Rapids Area High School, was shot in a neighborhood park while playing basketball with his 8-year-old daughter Danielle.

The shooting took place in a suburb called Valrico.

Witnesses say James, who was known as "DJ," tried to intervene in a neighborhood dispute with Trevor Dooley, 69, a school bus driver who lived on the street.

James allegedly lunged at Dooley, who was threatening skateboarders in the neighborhood with a gun. During the struggle, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the gun discharged.

James is the son of Don and Toni James, who have left the Park Rapids area. His nearest relative is a sister in St. Cloud, Donna Edmunds. She was en route to Florida Monday and could not be reached.

While at PRAHS, James was active in track, basketball, band and choir.

His Facebook page says he was in the U.S. Air Force 20 years and was currently a facilities manager for a company called L-3 Communications.

It indicated he was the construction manager for the facilities, and then ran them once completed.

He indicated he'd been looking for work in Minnesota this past year, but the wages were too low to consider moving.

Dooley was allegedly questioned by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department, but was eventually released without charges. Later Tuesday after the Enterprise went to press, Dooley was arrested on a manslaughter charge.

Dooley was allegedly complaining that the skateboarding teens were on the park's basketball court. The teens told officers they had had numerous run-ins with Dooley.

Wednesday, Dooley went before a judge morning after being held overnight without bail. Dooley also faces charges of improper exhibition of a firearm and openly displaying a weapon, according to the Sheriff's Office.

James' Facebook page indicated he married Kanina Cusiter, a waitress he met in Las Vegas, in 1998. She had a son Garrett that James adopted.

He indicated a love of kayaking, motorcycles, camping, boating and "loving the Florida weather."

On her Facebook page, Kanina James posted: "Yesterday the (most) horrible thing that can happen happened to us. My husband was shot to death right in front of his little girl."

In a later post, she wrote, "DJ took Danielle down to the basket ball court to play and a man was out yelling at a boy on a skate board. The guy had a gun and I guess DJ tried to get the gun away and he was shot. Died instantly."

The man accused in the fatal Valrico shooting of an Air Force veteran in front of his 8-year-old daughter goes before a judge Wednesday morning after being held overnight without bail.

Dooley also faces charges of improper exhibition of a firearm and openly carrying a firearm, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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