News that ‘triggered’ Alabama massacre
A 14-YEAR-OLD boy accused of gunning down his parents and young siblings had been exhibiting disturbing behaviours in the lead up to the killings, a family member alleges.
The Elkmont High student, who hasn't been identified because of his age, has been charged with five counts of juvenile murder after confessing to shooting his family members in the US, according to police. If tried as an adult he faces charges as serious as capital murder.
The boy's father John Sisk, 38, his stepmother, Mary Sisk, 35, his six-year-old half-brother; his five-year-old half-sister; and his six-month-old stepbrother were found dead in their home at Elkmont in Alabama on Monday.
Daisy McCarty, who is John Sisk's niece and the teen's first cousin, told WAFF that the accused killer was a well-behaved boy until his behaviour started to change about a year ago. According to her, he developed a habit of burning animals alive and vandalised his school.
"I think he's been having problems. … That's what bothers me because they'd seen it but they didn't do anything about it really," Ms McCarty said.
"I think they didn't talk to him enough to know what was really going on with him."
She also said he had learned just last week that Mary was not his biological mother.
"He didn't know any different of who his mum was … And they just recently told him, and I think that's really what triggered the little boy, to be honest with you," Ms McCarty continued. News.com.au has contacted Ms McCarty for comment.
Limestone Sheriff spokesman Stephen Young told news.com.au that a motive hadn't been established but that Ms McCarty's claims were being investigated.
Mr Young said the teen called emergency services to report that he was in the basement and heard gunshots upstairs around 10.30pm.
He repeated the claim to police who arrived in the family's driveway around 11pm, according to Mr Young.
Investigators found the handgun allegedly used in the killings on "the side of the road nearby where it had been tossed," the sheriff's office said in a tweet. Earlier, the office said the teen was assisting police in locating a 9mm handgun that he had discarded near the scene.
The handgun was in the home "illegally," Mr Young said without further explanation.
He added that the teen was later taken in for questioning and "upon being confronted with some of the inconsistencies (in his story), he did admit to shooting the five family members".
Mr Young said the tragedy was "on a scale that we're not used to here in Limestone County, Alabama, ever".
"It's important that you understand that this is a community that has a lot of healing to do right now. This is going to have a ripple effect among family, friends and the community … this affects all of us," he said.
The shootings unfolded in a modest, one-storey home on a large lot set back from a residential street. Elkmont, a town of fewer than 500 residents just south of the Tennessee border, is about a 45-minute drive northwest of Huntsville.
John Sisk worked at a local car dealership and his wife Mary was a middle school special education teacher at Huntsville City Schools in Alabama, according to the school's website. The couple had welcomed their youngest child in February this year.
Elkmont mayor Tracy Compton said the community was mourning the loss of the family.
"Three of which were the most innocent among us, under the most brutal circumstance," Ms Compton said.
"There are not enough words to convey the sense of loss this family is feeling at this time and there is little the rest of us can do to bring them comfort.
"We pray as a community for healing in this unprecedented situation and know that together we will persevere and eventually overcome."
UPDATE: Investigators have recovered the handgun from the side of the road nearby where it had been tossed. https://t.co/hayOpNXq6X— Limestone Sheriff (@LimestoneCoSO) September 3, 2019
The boy is currently being held in a juvenile facility.
A Limestone County School District spokeswoman confirmed the teen attended Elkmont High School but referred additional questions to law enforcement.
"Limestone County Schools is deeply saddened by the tragic event," Karen Tucker said in an email. "We are concentrating our efforts in assisting our students, faculty and community in dealing with this tragedy. Additional school counsellors and Limestone County Health Department Counsellors are on site. These individuals will be available for as long as there is a need."