Authorities in a Florida city are urging the community for help after three best friends were found dead while they were on their way to fish on Friday night.
Damion Tillman, 23, Keven Springfield, 30, and Brandon Rollins, 27, appeared to have been "beaten and shot to death" on their way to fish at a local lake in the city of Frostproof, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference Saturday.
Judd said that the three men, who had been friends for years, had been "massacred" and that it was a "horrific scene."
"I've been to a lot of murder scenes in my life and this ranks among the worst I've been to," the sheriff said.
Authorities said it was likely that there was more than one suspect involved in the incident.
The sheriff said he did not know if the victims and the suspect or suspects knew each other, but added that the area where they were killed was on a clay dirt road "way out in the middle of God's country."
"You just don't stumble upon somebody out here," Judd said. "It's not like there's a lot of people out here."
Authorities believe that Tillman was the first to arrive at the scene in a red pickup truck and was attacked. When Rollins and Springfield arrived together in a white pickup truck, the suspects were "in the process" of killing Tillman.
Rollins and Springfield were then "shot up" and killed, Judd said.
"But here's what the murderers didn't count on: that one of our victims, Brandon Rollins, was able to call his father, and say 'help,'" Judd said.
Rollins' father arrived at the scene around 10 minutes after his son called him for help at 10:06 p.m. on Friday.
When he reached the place, his son was "barely alive" but was "able to say a few things to his dad" before he died, the sheriff's office said.
Authorities did not release the details of that conversation.
Rollins' father had forgotten his cellphone in his haste, so he drove to the nearest gas station and called 911 before returning to the scene of the crime, authorities said.
When emergency personnel arrived at the scene, the three men were dead.
"We need the community’s help in identifying who killed these three young white men," Judd said. "It's important for the community to be as outraged as we are."
Authorities have offered a $5,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest.