A family feud turned ugly last night in West Palm Beach, where a standoff between stepfather and son ended in bloodshed and a dramatic SWAT standoff. A 55-year-old man is accused of slashing up his son and wife before turning the blade on himself. So far, reports can pinpoint only a verbal argument over the discipline of a child as the spark that lit the fuse here.
According to a police release, Palm Beach Sheriff's deputies showed up around 3:45 p.m. to a house in the 5000 block of Purdy Lane, west of Military Trail. Hiep Le and his stepson Robert Lee allegedly got into it over how the latter was disciplining his son. When the argument first kicked off, Lee's five children were in the house. His wife shuffled the kids out a back door as the fighting intensified.
At some point, the men left the house for the sidewalk. It was there that Le savagely stabbed his stepson, who then ran to a neighbor's house. Le barricaded himself inside his own home. Police and SWAT quickly metastasized around the property.
"It was just a family argument about putting the kids in timeout, and one thing thing led to another," a family friend told the Palm Beach Post. "He stabbed Rob and then barricaded himself in the house and basically said he wasn't going to go to prison and he'd rather kill himself."
Police spent two hours trying to convince Le to leave the property. When they eventually raided the house, they found Le had turned the knife on himself. He was pronounced dead on the scene. Lee died later last night at the Delray Medical Center. Le's wife was also slashed during the incident, but she received only some stitches.
Friends also told the paper that Le wasn't the violent type. A quick scan of public records only turns up some traffic incidents under the name.
The incident at the Le residence is the second brutal, interfamily slaying to hit the local news cycle in the past week. Last week, the interwebs went code red over Pedro Maldonado. The Weston man is accused of killing his wife and teenaged son and trying to kill another son with a crossbow.
You could queue up a lot of too-soon jokes about the holiday season acting as a pressure cooker for all those family issues that build all year round, but why not just go hug somebody today instead?
Send your story tips to the author, Kyle Swenson.