LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — Two people were killed, including the suspect, at an auto repair shop in Florida after a disgruntled customer, angered by a car repair from two years ago, stormed into the business and shot the owner, according to police.
Officers were called to Stout’s Automotive in Largo around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday after several callers reported an active shooting.
“I saw a bunch of police cars pulling up, rapidly, coming down the road. I heard the sirens,” said Arden Dittmer. “I saw the cars pulling in and police officers rushing towards the building.”
Officers with the Largo Police Department found two people suffering from gunshot wounds in the shop’s office area. Both were rushed to area hospitals where they later died from their injuries.
Dittmer, who owns a business across the street, said he texted Jodie Stout, the owner of Stout’s Automotive, after seeing police arrive. Stout didn’t respond.
“After watching for a few minutes, I saw the SWAT team or whoever with the shields go up to the front of the building, drag somebody away and start performing CPR,” Dittmer recalled.
Detectives later said 78-year-old Eugene Becker, a former customer of the shop, drove a rental car to Stout’s Automotive and asked to speak with the shop’s owner, 52-year-old Jodie Stout, at the front desk.
After Becker confirmed he was speaking with Stout, he brandished a gun and fired in Stout’s direction, police said. Stout then retrieved his own firearm and returned fire in Becker’s direction.
“The two exchanged multiple rounds of gunfire, during which time both Becker and Stout suffered life-threatening injuries,” the Largo Police Department said.
Dittmer said he’s known Stout for at least six years, and some of Dittmer’s Jeeps are in Stout’s garage. Dittmer also did all the signage for Stout’s shop.
“Just a good, honest guy,” Dittmer said. “He believed in good, family values. His son works for him, his wife works with him, helps out.”
Dittmer told Nexstar’s WFLA he didn’t “have a clue” why anyone would have an issue with Stout.
“Jodie was a great guy,” Dittmer said. “He’s going to be missed.”
Becker’s family members later told detectives that he visited Stout’s Automotive in 2021, seeking service for a vehicle he owned at the time. Becker was reportedly displeased with the service he received “and may have felt as though he was overcharged,” authorities said.
On Sep. 18, 2023, Becker was hospitalized and his car was totaled in a crash in Pinellas Park.
A family member told investigators that Becker had become “somewhat depressed and extremely frustrated” since the accident.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, it appears as though Becker responded to Stout’s Automotive with the intent to shoot the victim in retaliation for the perceived wrong from 2021,” police added.