‘A walking time bomb’: What led a new father to kill his ex?

Larissa Barros grabbed her nephew when she heard the gunshots.

The 18-year-old cradled the baby closely as she huddled in an upstairs bedroom in her family’s Poinciana home and called 911.

Kai Williams shot through the front door and a window, leaving a trail of blood droplets and glass as he made his way through the two-story home. He fired again through the bedroom door where his ex-girlfriend was hiding.

“Please, send the police, please!” Barros screamed into the phone. “Stop! Back up! Stop! He’s here! What do you want?!”

Another series of shots rang out. The line went silent.

Those muffled pops have echoed over the last three months in the memories of grieving friends and family trying to piece together what happened and why. Court records, family members and law enforcement reports paint a picture of a destructive relationship that spiraled out of control.

Started out as puppy love

Williams didn’t get the best grades. His family says he was constantly behind while attending Liberty High School, one of the reasons he wasn’t attending college.

He was popular, though, and always had friends over playing the latest version of Madden on their PlayStation. When he wasn’t hanging out with friends or shooting hoops on the basketball court, he would play with his younger siblings.

But his family says he didn’t have a clear career path and wasn’t particularly ambitious. They think he might not have graduated in 2015 if it wasn’t for meeting Larissa Barros.

She was everything he wasn’t. She was two years younger but got straight As, was a member of six clubs and had plans to attend Florida State University and become a doctor.

Barros started tutoring Williams in spring 2015 at her house on Blackpool Way, just a few blocks from his Alicante Court home.

It started off as puppy love, a high-school romance. She met his dad. He had dinner at her house.

Then she got pregnant and things turned chaotic.

Emotions heat up

For seven months, Barros kept her pregnancy a secret.

She was afraid of how family and friends would react.

All the while, her relationship with Williams spiraled out of control. After arguments, he called Barros names on social media and talked about their sex life.

They broke up in September 2015 — just months after she got pregnant — but Williams didn’t stop trying to talk to her.

“… No matter what you ever did to me, I always still loved you and wanted you and now the woman of my dreams [is] telling me she doesn’t want me anymore,” he texted her in January 2016. “… you might as well die.”

He told her he was suicidal and couldn’t live without her.

Around that time, Barros, through tears, told her mother, Delfina Monteiro, she was pregnant. She was surprised by her mother’s support.

The revelation helped ease some stress, but things with Williams started down a darker path.

Father seeks split custody

Eli Joel Barros was born Feb. 12, 2016.

Williams was visiting his mother, Melissa Showalter, in Atlanta but made sure he was back in Central Florida for the birth of his son. He was excited and constantly asking his mother questions about children and what he was like as a kid.

Then he found out Eli was born —12 hours after it happened, and Barros didn’t tell him.

He was heartbroken.

A month later, Williams requested split custody.

“My son is being hidden from me, so [I] don’t even know where he is,” he wrote in custody forms.

He grew up in a broken household and didn’t want that for Eli. He knew about the fights his parents had with one another and in other relationships, including fights that sparked violence.

But Barros was moving on — getting settled with the newborn and going back to school.

Her family says they believed Williams’ requests for split custody of the baby were really attempts to see Barros because he couldn’t move past their relationship.

He’d sent her more than 1,000 text messages over a six-month period and was posting about her daily on social media, court records show. Monteiro filed a protective injunction in August on behalf of her daughter, explaining that Williams “threatened to shoot” her and “have someone to physically harm her for pay.”

‘I am afraid he will hurt me’

Records show his first arrest was in September after Barros’ car was set on fire and all four of her tires were slashed. Prosecutors said they declined to pursue the aggravated-stalking charge because there wasn’t enough evidence.

Williams was arrested again in December after authorities said he violated his release by texting and calling Barros, begging her to talk to him.

Barros then asked for sole custody of their son, explaining she had been accepted to Florida State University and would be moving.

Williams didn’t want her to go. A judge never decided on the request.

Barros got a second protective order in January after Williams posted a video of him browsing in a gun shop.

“Kai has been unstable and jealous,” she wrote in the request. “I am afraid he will hurt me or my child if he gets the opportunity.”

The final confrontation

Williams’ problems with the law led to less time with Eli. Their short visits became monitored and only once every other week at a community center.

He made the most of them, though, bringing along cookies and Cheerios and usually laughing as they played outside. He hugged and kissed Eli on May 6, 2017, before leaving.

Five days later — May 11 — Williams walked over to Barros’ house and knocked on the door, armed with a gun he’d pocketed from his mother’s bedroom during a weekend trip to Atlanta.

Barros and her sister, Malissa Barros, looked outside, but by that time no one was there.

Malissa Barros left her son with Larissa inside as she went out to investigate. She got in her car and circled around their neighborhood when she saw him.

Williams raised a black gun. She panicked and floored the gas in her white Ford Focus, ramming into him.

But that didn’t stop him.

Bloodied, clothes tattered, Williams ran to the front door of the Barros family home, where the sisters lived with their sons and mother.

He shot his ex-girlfriend twice; the fatal shot was to her head.

Afterward, Williams took his mother’s handgun, which had never been used before that night, and went outside. He paced back and forth in the driveway before staggering away and shooting himself in the head.

Authorities found Barros in an upstairs bedroom, still clutching her sister’s son.

He was crying but wasn’t injured.

Both were covered in her blood.

Larrisa’s son was at day care during the rampage.

‘Walking time bomb’

Kevin Williams washed the blood from his son’s T-shirt, jacket and basketball shorts before hanging them up in his room.

The outfit in which his son died serves as a reminder of his regret.

He blames himself for not getting his son counseling, for not seeing the problems before it was too late. He said Kai’s anger manifested itself in a way he never anticipated.

“He’s like a walking time bomb,” his father said.

And he hopes others can learn from his misery.

“Pay attention to your kids. Don’t brush things off and make sure you know what they’re doing and when they’re doing it,” he said. “… This is a valuable lesson. The quietest kids are the most dangerous.”

‘Maybe she’ll come back’

Two weeks after her death, Barros’ family went to what would have been her graduation from Liberty High School.

But instead of Barros walking across the stage, her son wore the green cap and gown.

Monteiro carried Eli across the stage, shaking each school administrator’s hand.

The months without her have been hard on the tight-knit family.

“It’s unexplainable. Sometimes I think if I don’t think about it, maybe she’ll come back. Maybe it’s not real,” said Malissa Barros. “We still have Eli. It’s like a little piece of her that we get to enjoy and see grow each day.”

chayes@orlandosentinel.com, 407-420-5493 or Twitter: @journo_christal