Gunman in murder-suicide near West Palm was firearms instructor

Concealed Carry



Mark Lee was an NRA-certified instructor who associates said specialized in teaching how to conceal a gun.

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WEST PALM BEACH — A West Palm Beach man who deputies say killed a woman before turning the gun on himself had a decades-long career in South Florida as a firearms instructor.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office says Mark Alan Lee, 58, shot a man and woman in his home near West Palm Beach on Dec. 21 before fatally shooting himself. The family of the woman he killed, along with the man who survived the shooting, invoked their right under Florida law to withhold their names and relationship to Lee from public reports.

Deputies are investigating the shooting as a murder-suicide — at least the third in Palm Beach County this year, according to a Palm Beach Post online database. While authorities have released few details about what prompted the shooting, a 911 call Lee made seven months earlier points to moments of turbulence within the home and a fear that his career and reputation were crumbling.

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News of the murder-suicide traveled quickly through the network of firearm instructors and gun-show promoters to which Lee belonged. According to his business card, Lee became an NRA-certified instructor in 1992. Those familiar with his business, Concealed Carry Concepts, said he specialized in teaching gun owners how easy it is to conceal a firearm.

“I was in shock,” said Roberta Wilson, who helps run R & R Gun Shop in Sebastian in Indian River County with her husband. The couple met Lee about 10 years ago at a gun show, she said. “I have no clue what happened.”

May incident at gunman’s home preceded night of gunfire

The survivor of the shooting told deputies that a dispute broke out between Lee and the woman he lived with along the 1300 block of Meadowbrook Drive, just west of Palm Beach International Airport, at about 10:20 p.m. The sound of three gunshots and the survivor’s screams jolted Lee’s next-door neighbor, Greg Mason, as he got ready for bed.

Mason opened the front door to his home and said he saw a man on his hands and knees in front of Lee’s front door.

“He was bleeding and screaming,” Mason said. “I could recognize that he didn’t live there. I didn’t want to get too close, because I didn’t know if there was still a gunman in there. It’s very confusing at that time of night.”

Mason called 911 and flagged down the first officer to arrive. He said he couldn’t begin to guess at what drove Lee to pull the trigger. Mason is the kind of neighbor who keeps to himself, and others said Lee was like that, too.

Many on the street said they knew him only as the man with the gun advertisements stuck to his car, or as the man in the gray house with the cats. Some cats peered out from the living room window the day after the shooting, a sign taped to the door to say they would be impounded by the county’s animal care division.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has not publicly identified the woman who died in the shooting, or her relationship to Lee.

A deputy responded to the Meadowbrook address once prior to their deaths, according to an incident report. Lee called 911 in May after his wife left their home mid-argument, and he told the deputy that he was afraid she would try to hurt his reputation and career.

“Mark Lee stated he’s had false allegations of domestic battery made against him, and he believes his wife is going to ruin his business,” the deputy wrote.

Lee met the deputy outside of his home at about 1 a.m., his wife’s car gone from the driveway. He smelled like alcohol, the deputy wrote. His speech was slurred, and his story changed each time he told it.

In one version, he said his wife threatened him before she left. The deputy told Lee to seek an order of no-contact from the courts if he feared his wife would become violent. Lee never did.

His wife spoke to the deputy over the phone as she drove to Lake Worth Beach, where she’d spend the rest of the night at her workplace. She said her husband had recently begun to drink heavily, and it took a toll on their relationship. He’d become argumentative and inconsiderate, she said, and kept her awake “all hours of the night” with noise and lights.

“She believes it’s the equivalent of abuse, and she wants something done about it,” the deputy wrote.

Neither Lee nor his wife pressed charges that night. They marked their 33rd wedding anniversary a month before the shooting.

Firearms instructor specialized in use of concealed weapons

Originally from the Bahamas, Lee attended Palm Beach Lakes High School, known then as Twin Lakes High School, and worked as an air-conditioning mechanic at The Breakers hotel before transitioning into a career as a firearms instructor in the early ’90s.

He offered private concealed weapons classes and appeared at gun shows in Palm Beach and Martin counties as recently as Dec. 11. His voicemail is cheerful, promising a quick call back to anyone inquiring about training.

“He’d be the first to tell you to walk away, the first to tell you to never shoot someone in the back,” said Mike Tanner, owner of Self Sense Security in Boynton Beach. “He was always the first to tell you about treating a firearm as if it’s loaded.”

Tanner said he spent countless weekends with Lee at gun shows over the last four years. Lee was a hugger, he said, and he walked with a limp from a years-old motorcycle accident that still caused him pain. Tanner said he often took breaks during gun shows to call his wife and ask how she was doing.

Tanner last saw him two weeks before the shooting. Lee gave him and his wife a Christmas card.

“He seemed fine,” Tanner said. “He seemed happy. That’s why it’s a complete, complete shock.”

More than 50 people died as a result of murder-suicides in Florida this year, nine of whom were in Palm Beach County, according to the National Gun Violence Database. Deputies found a husband and wife dead in their Boynton Beach home in February, and an elderly man and woman in their West Palm Beach home in November.

Intimate partners are among the victims in nearly two-thirds of all murder-suicides, according to Violence Policy Center.

The latest data available from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention shows that suicides accounted for more than half of gun deaths in the U.S. in 2020. Gun suicides have outnumbered gun homicides each year since the CDC began publishing data in 1981.

Lee never spoke about suicide, Tanner said. In a photo posted to his public Facebook profile, he posed with a semi-automatic short-barreled rifle, his pointer finger just above the trigger.

Help is available for people experiencing domestic violence or suicidal thoughts. Call the Palm Beach County Victim Services 24-hour helpline at 561-833-7273, or the 24-hour Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

Hannah Phillips is a journalist covering public safety and criminal justice at The Palm Beach Post. You can reach her at hphillips@pbpost.com.



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