St. Johns is a small community north east of Phoenix Arizona that is usually a quiet little place that doesn’t have much crime. The town’s motto is “The Town of Friendly Neighbors” and only exists of 3500 residents.

Wednesday the police department in St. Johns said that an 8 year old boy confessed to shooting his father and another man with a 22 caliber rifle. St. Johns Police Chief Roy Melnick said the child was near the crime scene when the police arrived. The police chief wouldn’t discuss a motive or how the child even got his hands on a firearm to begin with.

The boy had gone to a neighbor’s house and told them that he thought his father was dead. When police got there they found one victim just outside the door and the other was upstairs in a room. The victims have been identified as the boy’s father, Vincent Romero, 29, and Timothy Romans, 39 of San Carlos who is believed to be a boarder renting a room there. The two men were employees with a construction company that had a contract to do work at the Salt River Project plant near St. Johns.

“Who would think an 8 year old kid could kill two adults?” said Melnick on Friday. “This is precedent-setting. We’re going to charge an 8-year old with two counts of homicide.”

“We haven’t had anything like this in Apache County in my 23-years as a prosecutor,” said County Attorney Criss Candelaria. “We need to figure out what was going on in this boy’s head.” He says the legal issues in this case are murky, that they are compounded by uncertainty about whether the child should remain in detention, be released to a relative or placed as a state ward. “Where do we keep him?” Candelaria said. “It’s obvious there’s going to have to be a lot of evaluation.”

The boy is being held at the juvenile detention centre and police say he doesn’t have any records of ever being in any kind of trouble with no bad behavior records from school or of any problems at home. His Father had full custody of him and his biological mother had visited him just over the weekend prior to this from Mississippi, but she has returned to Arizona once she was notified of the shootings. His step mother was not home at the time and there are no other children in the family.

The boy now has a defense lawyer, Benjamin Brewer that said police had overreached in questioning his client without representation from a parent or a lawyer, and they had not advised him of his rights.

One has to wonder what could have been going through this child’s head to make him want to kill anyone, let alone his own father. I have a feeling that there is a lot more to this story that will unfold during this investigation that we as the public may never hear about.

Jan Barrett

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