CSI: Disney Town

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A murder and a police standoff that ended in suicide have rattled the quiet, eerily quaint  Disney-built town of Celebration, Florida. The neighborhood of 10,000 people--which is made all the more charming this time of year by a dusting of fake snow--"has been largely free from urban strife," until two shocking crimes happened less than a week apart, The New York Times' Kim Severson reports.

Thursday night, police spent 14 hours trying to talk down a distraught man, who had lost his job and his wife and barricaded himself in his home, only to break into his house and find him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. That follows the Thanksgiving weekend death of Matteo Patrick Giovanditto, the first person ever murdered in the town.

During the police standoff with Craig Foushee, 52, "the schoolhouse near the town square was locked down," Severson reports. "Buzzing helicopters interrupted horse-and-carriage rides. Even the holiday cocktail party at the golf course was canceled. ... Had residents ever seen a SWAT team in town before?" Severson asked. Only during a Boy Scouts demonstration, a resident said.

Of course, there have been other indications here that the ride might be over. Smaller crimes are not unheard of. In 1998, a robber who said he had a gun threatened a family and robbed them in their home. It was the town’s first reported violent crime.

The economy has taken some of the shine from the streets, too. On Thanksgiving Day, the movie theater, which proudly showed its share of Disney films, went out of business. And there is no one who has not been hoping that home prices stop dropping. At their peak, homes sold for an average of $1 million. Now, they might go for half that.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.