CHANDLER — A 13-year-old boy charged with first-degree murder in a deadly crossbow shooting told authorities “he was hunting and accidentally shot his friends.”
The surviving victim, though, said the shooter "was mad at them," according to investigators.
Shane Edward Brooks, of Wellston, is accused of shooting his friends — brothers Austin Almanza, 10, and Ayden Almanza, 8 — with the crossbow on Oct. 21. Brooks is one of the youngest ever to be charged in Oklahoma as an adult with first-degree murder.
Brooks was arrested the day of the shooting but his name wasn't initially released. Lincoln County prosecutors charged him late last year.
On Thursday, a judge ordered a psychological evaluation of Brooks to determine how his case should be handled in the future. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 1.
Austin died from a crossbow bolt wound to the abdomen, the state medical examiner reported.
Both boys were hit with a single bolt, the Lincoln County sheriff's office reported. The bolt traveled through Austin, then struck Ayden in the left arm. The shooting occurred about 5:50 p.m. that day near the defendant's home in Wellston.
The brothers' uncle, who was in the area, told investigators he “heard screaming” coming from a nearby treehouse. He then saw Ayden with an arrow in his arm, an investigator for the district attorney reported in a court affidavit.
“Ayden told him, ‘Shane shot me and my brother,'” the investigator wrote.
The uncle, Roger Conaway, then saw Brooks dressed in camouflage and heard the boy say, “I think I murdered him accidentally,” according to the affidavit. Conaway said Brooks then “ran home crying.”
The uncle said he witnessed Brooks shooting arrows into the air the day before the incident.
“Shane was careless with the crossbow,” he told investigators.
Brooks had just received the crossbow the day before the shooting, his stepfather told investigators. The stepfather, Merrill Darley, said he was asleep at the time of the shooting because he works nights.
Darley said Brooks woke him up after the shooting and said there had been an accident and an arrow had hit Austin and the other kid.
The stepfather also told investigators that “Brooks has a good temperament but had a hatred of his mother,” the investigator reported. He also said Brooks has hit his mother in the past and police were called, but "no action was ever taken."
Brooks' mother, Desiree Brooks, said her son told her “he didn't know what happened, and believes the crossbow was loaded wrong,” the investigator reported. She also said her son told her “he didn't know the crossbow fired until Brooks saw Austin fall to the ground.”
Reached by phone Thursday, Desiree Brooks declined comment. Shane Brooks' attorney, Larry Lenora, also declined comment.
The day after the shooting, investigators interviewed Ayden at an Oklahoma City hospital. He told investigators he, Austin and Shane Brooks went to work on a nearby treehouse the day of the shooting.
Ayden said Shane Brooks became angry when the brothers attempted to leave. Brooks jumped down from the tree, grabbed the crossbow and hid in some tall grass near the tree house, Ayden told the investigator.
Ayden said Brooks then shot a hunting arrow at them, the investigator reported. Ayden said the crossbow was camouflage in color with an attached scope.
Shane Brooks has multiple weapons, including pistols, a shotgun, a rifle and a BB gun, Ayden told the investigator.
Ayden said he doesn't like Shane Brooks because he is "always mean," the investigator reported. Ayden said that a month before the crossbow shooting, Brooks shot him with airsoft guns.
The brothers' mother, Elizabeth Conaway, told investigators that Ayden told her they'd been shot because “Shane Brooks was mad at them.”
Shane Brooks was released on $130,000 bail in December, records show. Conditions of his release include GPS monitoring, no weapons in the home, an 8 p.m. curfew and no contact with the victims' family. Brooks also can't leave his home without being supervised by one parent.